Nadal, Sharapova advance at Aussie Open

Annette Crawford
January 14, 2019

Rafael Nadal said Monday he was delighted with his remodelled serve and his fitness levels after blazing into the second round of the Australian Open.

A ruthless Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in a clinical first round thumping at the Australian Open Monday as fellow veteran Maria Sharapova issued her own warning with a "double bagel" demolition. He withdrew from a warm-up tournament in Brisbane in the first week of the season because of a muscle strain in his thigh.

"Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot", Nadal said. "It's very hard to start after an injury - I know it very well".

Instead of playing to the death, third or fifth sets now go to a tie-break when the score reaches 6-6 and it becomes the first to 10.

He starts his campaign on day one against Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena - the Uzbek who caused a massive upset two years ago when he knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round.

In her 15th trip to Melbourne Park and her 55th Grand Slam tournament, she's acutely aware of the toll that the sun and long early matches can have on a player's title ambitions, so she gets straight to business.

"I feel good. If I am not feeling good, I will not be here", he said ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

The former world number one said Andy Murray's announcement that this year's tournament Down Under would be his last had underlined her determination to make the most of her time in the spotlight.

"From that perspective, I just have a very different opinion. I was glad that I did the right things from the beginning till the end".

Ninth seed John Isner was stunned by his American compatriot Reilly Opelka, who secured a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) victory in a tight encounter between the towering pair that looked set to go the distance.

Britain's Katie Boulter, meanwhile, created a slice of history by becoming the first woman to win in a third set tiebreak -- a new rule introduced to the Open this year.

Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker. After losing two service games in the match, Nadal was pleased with it.

Fifth seed Kevin Anderson also progressed against Adrian Mannarino, with last year's Wimbledon finalist through 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

Second seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, has an opening match against Slovakia's Polona Hercog, while Petra Kvitova, fresh from winning the Sydney International on Saturday, plays Magdalena Rybarikova.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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