Tennis news, Australian Open - Rafa Nadal allays injury fears to ease past James Duckworth
Rafa Nadal reached the second round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over battling local favourite James Duckworth.
The Spaniard, who is seeking his second title at Melbourne Park, emerged with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory despite recovering from a recent thigh strain that forced him to pull out of the Brisbane warm-up event.
Wild Card Duckworth pulled off some lovely shots – particularly in the final few games to entertain the crowd – but despite breaking the 17-time Grand Slam champion at 5-3 down in the final set, he could not make it count.
Nadal, who is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era, and only the third man ever, to win each of the four Grand Slams twice, ran his opponent down with his superior court coverage and ability to hit winners under pressure.
"I played against a super-aggressive player. Today he went on court with the determination to not play tennis the way I understand tennis," Nadal said.
" (It) is not a negative point. Not at all. Believe me. He went on court probably doing a thing that works well for him, and he gives himself some chances. And he played smart and he played well."
The Spaniard, who will next meet the winner of Australian Matthew Ebden's contest with Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, said before the match he has brought a remodelled serve to Melbourne aimed at generating more pace. After losing two service games in the match, Nadal was pleased with it.
"My serve worked well. I don't know my percentage, but was a lot of good positions after the first serve," he said. "I felt solid with the second."
Additional reporting: Reuters