The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal made a winning start at the season’s first Major event in Melbourne. Rafa took down Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 49 minutes for his milestone 70th Australian Open victory. The 2009 champion claimed the ATP 250 title in Melbourne a week ago, and he looked good today, dropping 14 points behind the initial shot and fending off both break points he faced. The Spaniard grabbed 45% of the return points and turned them into five breaks from nine opportunities, enough to seal the deal in under two hours. Rafa hit 34 winners and 26 unforced errors, dominating the shortest rallies and efficiently covering the net. Nadal held at love in the opening game with a service winner, and Giron got his name on the scoreboard with an ace in game two. The Spaniard fired an ace in game three and claimed four straight points in the next one for an early break and a 3-1 advantage thanks to a beautiful running backhand winner at the net.
Rafael Nadal is through to the second round at the Australian Open.
Nadal confirmed the break with a service winner in game five and fired a forehand winner in the next one to steal his rival’s serve at love and open a 5-1 gap in 21 minutes. Firing from all cylinders, Nadal closed the opener with an unreturned serve in game seven after 24 minutes, looking good on the court and hoping for more in set number two. Struggling to match the opponent’s level, Marcos netted a forehand in the opening game to lose serve for the third straight time and created the first break chance in game two after Rafa’s loose forehand. The Spaniard saved it and held after three deuces for a 2-0 advantage. World no. 6 closed the fourth game with a forehand crosscourt winner and held with ease at 3-2 with an unreturned serve.
Giron served well in game seven to remain within one break deficit, and Nadal grabbed the next one with a forehand winner. Marcos saved four set points on serve at 3-5 before Rafa closed it in game ten for a 6-1, 6-4 lead. At the beginning of the third set, the Spaniard grabbed a break with a backhand down the line winner and cemented it with an ace in game two. Nadal held at 15 in game four and broke Giron in the next one after an incredible slice that sent him 4-1 ahead. A service winner pushed Rafa further in front, and he sealed the deal with a service winner in the next one after fending off a break point to book a place in round two.