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Rafael Nadal, the 2009 champion, was in devastating form on Monday against Victor Estrella Burgos at the Australian Open.

Nadal Opens With A Bang!

Spanish star will remain at No. 1 if he reaches the quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal marked his return to competitive play on Monday night with a devastating blend of power tennis and excellent movement at the Australian Open.

The World No. 1, competing for the first time since appearing at the Nitto ATP Finals in November 2017, swept past Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in just one hour and 34 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

“It was a positive start with a good result,” said Nadal. “I started with positive feelings - that's [the] most important thing for me now. Of course, there are things to improve, but the things that I need to improve, matches will give me. Victories are the most important thing now.”

The 31-year-old Spaniard improved to 52-11 at Melbourne Park, scene of his 2009 triumph over Roger Federer, and will play Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in the second round. Mayer knocked out Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6(1), 6-3 earlier in the day.

Nadal, who will remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings should he reach the quarter-finals, is bidding to become only the third player in tennis history — after Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver — to win each of the four Grand Slam championship titles twice.

Nadal completed the 23-minute first set with a perfect drop shot winner, which left Estrella Burgos flat-footed. World No. 81 Estrella Burgos broke Nadal for the first time on his sixth break point opportunity at 5-0 in the second set. Nadal struck 28 winners, winning 86 total points to 41 for his 37-year-old opponent.

When asked what keeps him motivated, Nadal admitted, “Because I love tennis and I love the competition in general. I love playing on the biggest and most historic courts of our Tour. I appreciate all these kind of things… Every day for me is a good motivation to go on court in front of a great crowd here in Australia, on Rod Laver Arena.

“I know this is not forever. I want to enjoy all the moments that I have - the chances to spend on this historic stadiums. That's what I am doing: enjoy every moment, and try to give myself chances to keep playing in these places.”

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