Nadal launches title bid with straight sets win

andrew hendrie:

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has advanced into the second round of the Australian Open with a straight sets dispatch of Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien on Tuesday.

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Nadal registered a 6-2 6-3 6-0 victory, but the match was far tougher than the scoreline suggested, with Dellien really making a contest of it in the first two sets before falling away in the third.

Despite being far from his best, Nadal said he was happy with his performance in the opening round.

”I’m happy it’s a very positive start here. I’m happy and excited to be back in Melbourne,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “This court brings me to great memories and a lot of positive energy.

”[Dellien] is a fighter. He has a great story behind him. I’m happy for him that he’s playing at a high level and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season. He’s a great guy.”

Rafael Nadal (Credit Image: Sydney Low/CSM/Sipa USA)

Dellien showcased all of his fighting qualities throughout the match, which he said was being treated as a football World Cup match back in his home country.

The Bolivian broke Nadal’s serve on two occasions, but he wasn’t able to win any free points behind his own delivery, and that increasingly became a problem as the match went on.

Nadal gradually became more dominant and his relentlessness ultimately became too much for Dellien to handle as the Spaniard reached the Australian Open second round for the 14th time.

The top seed will meet the winner of Federico Delbonis and Joao Sousa in the second round on Thursday. He leads both players 3-0 in their head-to-heads.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Dominic Thiem enjoyed a routine start as he bids for a first Grand Slam title in Melbourne, improving his flawless record over Adrian Mannarino to 8-0, conquering the Frenchman by a 6-3 7-5 6-2 scoreline.

Ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut also prevailed in straight sets, easing past veteran compatriot and ATP Cup teammate Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-2 7-5, while Fabio Fognini recovered from two sets down to outlast the giant-serving Reilly Opelka.

There was also a four-set win for 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, with the Swiss battling past Damir Dzumhur 7-5 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4.