Rafael Nadal starts with win at Australian Open
Spanish second seed bidding to become the first man in the Open era, and only third in history along with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 14/01/19 3:42pm
A ruthless Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in a clinical first-round thumping of wildcard James Duckworth at the Australian Open on Monday.
Nadal swatted aside the home hope Duckworth 6-4 6-3 7-5 in a performance that eased concerns over his fitness ahead of the season's first major.
The 2009 winner had pulled out of the Brisbane International warm-up with a thigh strain but showed no signs of the problem in his opener, hammering his opponent to set up a meeting with Matthew Ebden or Jan-Lennard Struff next.
Defending champion Roger Federer began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 win over Denis Istomin.
Playing before a capacity crowd of more than 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena, Federer broke Istomin's serve at 2-2 in the third set on the way to his seventh win in a row without a loss against the Uzbekistan player.
Federer's seventh Australian Open title would be the most by any player. Novak Djokovic, who plays his first-round match on Tuesday, and Roy Emerson, also have six wins each at the Australian Open, although Emerson's wins were before the start of the Open era in 1968.
A win in Melbourne would also be Federer's 100th tour-level title, the second man after Jimmy Connors to win 100 titles. Connors had 109.
Ninth seed John Isner was stunned by his American compatriot Reilly Opelka, who secured a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) victory in a tight encounter between the towering pair that looked set to go the distance.
Opelka, ranked 102 in the world, moved into the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson fired 14 aces and 47 winners to blast past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1.
The towering South African, who has never gone beyond the fourth round in Melbourne, next meets unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, who beat qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 6-3.
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov dropped the opening set tamely but regained his composure to power past unseeded Janko Tipsarevic 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-4. Marin Cilic beat Bernard Tomic 6-2 6-4 7-6.
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