Nadal In Full Flight For Opening Test
Hugo Dellien won plenty of new fans with his inspired effort on Tuesday, but Rafael Nadal handily won their first-round clash at the Australian Open. The top-seeded Spaniard moved past the Bolivian 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 to begin his campaign in Melbourne.
"It's been a solid start. I think the third set was a great set. I think I played a very good level of tennis," Nadal said. "The first two, I played with a little more caution... Just trying to play a solid game with not many mistakes.
"Then, of course, with an advantage in the score, I tried to play the way that I really believe I need to play if I want to have a positive result here."
Nadal moved a step closer to his 20th Grand Slam crown and first title at this event since 2009. But the Spaniard insisted he's not thinking beyond his next match and is only focussed on raising his level.
"I think about my practice tomorrow, try to follow up the level of tennis that I played in the third set. That should be my main goal today, no? I need to play at my highest level if I want to keep going in the tournament," Nadal said. "The only thing I can do is put all my efforts on trying to keep going in the best way possible. The rest of the things, the future will see."
Dellien handled his new surroundings well in the early stages of the match, stepping into his returns and making it clear that he was ready to fight. But despite the Bolivian holding 10 game points in the first four games, Nadal’s relentless baseline slugging proved too strong and he led 5-0 after 39 minutes. The top seed’s only minor blip came as he attempted to serve out the set at 5-1, but he recovered with a strong forehand in the next game to take the early lead.
Nadal cleaned up his game in the second set, beefing up his first-serve percentage (54% to 67%) and reducing his error count from the baseline. Although Dellien managed to break at 4-2 to get the set back on serve, the moment only intensified Nadal’s focus. The Spaniard sprinted through eight of the last 10 points for a commanding advantage.
The grueling baseline rallies finally took their toll on Dellien and Nadal quickly seized his opportunity. The World No. 1 dominated the final set with a sublime display of power tennis, hitting 18 winners to just five unforced errors to advance in two hours and two minutes. He improved to 62-13 at the first major of the year.
Nadal will meet Federico Delbonis in the second round. The Argentine beat Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours and 18 minutes to reach the second round for the second time. Nadal leads Delbonis 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
Fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(2). Carreno Busta hammered 41 winners en route to advancing in two hours and 37 minutes. The No. 27 seed will meet Peter Gojowczyk in the second round. The 30-year-old German defeated Christopher Eubanks 7-6(1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.