Rafael Nadal began his quest to win his first Australian Open title in 11 years with a straight sets victory against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien on Tuesday.
It was tougher than the scoreline appeared, with Dellien – the first Bolivian to play at the tournament – keeping the world No 1 out on court for more than two hours before going down 6-2 6-3 6-0.
But there were no alarms for Nadal, who said: “For me personally it has been a very positive start. What you want is to win in the first round and, if you can do it in straight sets, even better.”
“I think the third set was a great set. I think I played a very good level of tennis. The first two I played with a little bit more caution,” he later added during his press conference.
“I think I was just trying to not do something very good, but not doing something very bad. Just trying to play a solid game with not many mistakes.
“Just try to do the things that I know that I can do it. Just try to put myself on rhythm. That was my goal at the beginning of the match.
“Then, with an advantage on the score, I just tried to play the way that I really believe I need to play if I want to have a positive result here.”
Should the Spaniard repeat his 2009 success in Melbourne, he will become the first man in the Open era to capture each of the four majors at least twice.
Fifth seed Dominic Thiem maintained his 100 per cent record against Adrian Mannarino, winning an eighth career meeting with the Frenchman 6-3 7-5 6-2 to move into the second round.
Former champion Stan Wawrinka celebrated his 200th Grand Slam match with a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 victory over Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur.
Nick Kyrgios is carrying home pressure as the leading Australian man following the withdrawal of Alex De Minaur through injury.
Kyrgios’ stock is high at the moment thanks to his efforts in leading tennis’ response to the wildfire crisis and he kept his focus on court in a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-1) victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
During is on-court interview tennis legend John McEnroe told Kyrgios he was proud of him and promised to donate $1,000 to the bush fire recovery effort for every set the Aussie star wins at the tournament.
Forzaaaaaaa! 馃憡馃徎 @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/rIg4sGxwV2
— Fabio Fognini (@fabiofogna) January 21, 2020
Italy’s Fabio Fognini, the 12th seed, battled back from two sets down to beat unseeded American Reilly Opelka 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (10-5) in a match lasting three hours and 38 minutes.
Only the beginning. This kid is gonna do big things https://t.co/VDz1kvhPmx
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 21, 2020
American Tommy Paul drew praise from local favourite Nick Kyrgios following his 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 win over Argentine Leonardo Mayer for his first Grand Slam main draw victory.
“Only the beginning. This kid is gonna do big things,” Kyrgios tweeted.
In other first-round matches carried over from a rain-hit opening day, Milos Raonic beat lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino 6-2 6-1 6-3 while Marin Cilic downed Corentin Moutet 6-3 6-2 6-4.
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 runner-up, was forced to retire from his match against Alexei Popyrin due to an injury while trailing the Australian 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1.