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Nadal, Thiem advance in Australian Open

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MELBOURNE         –            World number one Rafael Nadal blitzed past Hugo Dellien Tuesday to launch his campaign to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles, dropping just five games in the one-sided annihilation.

Nadal, one shy of Roger Federer’s Grand Slam mark, dropped only five games as he swatted aside Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 in just over two hours at a sunny Rod Laver Arena. World No 5 Dominic Thiem cruised into the Australian Open second round. The Austrian brushed aside Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena and said he was determined to get as many wins as possible at a tournament where he has never gone past the fourth round.

In the night session, fourth seed Daniil Medvedev navigated a challenging first-round clash against last year’s quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe to kickstart his campaign. The talented 23-year-old ultimately showed his class to outlast the American 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. It was a tough workout for the in-form Medvedev. Australia’s Kyrgios kept his notorious temper in check despite being taken to two tie-breaks in a 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7-1) win over Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.

Seventh seed Alexander Zverev beat Marco Cecchinato in straight sets but there was disappointment for France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who retired with a back injury against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. Former champion Stan Wawrinka dropped a set but reached the second round with a good 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 win over Damir Dzumhur. Ernests Gulbis caused yet another upset at a Grand Slam as he knocked out Canadian 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 in the first round. On a bumper day of 88 first-round matches, after rain wiped out half of Monday’s schedule, former US Open champion Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic both moved safely through.

Italy’s Fabio Fognini, two sets down against America’s Reilly Opelka when their match was suspended on Monday, returned to win it in five on Tuesday after a stormy encounter when both players argued furiously with the umpire. A new star emerged in 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, last year’s NextGen champion, who earned his first Grand Slam victory 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-4 against Australia’s Max Purcell.

PLISKOVA, HALEP PASS TEST; VEKIC BEATS WILDCARD SHARAPOVA: World No 2 Karolina Pliskova passed her tricky opener test to reach the second round. The 27-year-old Czech defeated France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 7-5. Johanna Konta, the 12th seed, was the highest-ranked name to fall in the women’s opening draw thus far, as Ons Jabeur of Tunisia knocked her out 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Maria Sharapova, who needed a wildcard to make the main draw, was dealt a further blow as the five-time Grand Slam champion was beaten in straight sets in first round of the second straight Grand Slam. Croatia’s 19th-seeded Donna Vekic beat the Russian 6-3, 6-4.

In the night session, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep survived a couple of tumbles and a sore wrist before surging into the second round. The Romanian fourth seed recovered from a poor start to beat the American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 and launch her title bid. Australian local Ajla Tomljanovic started with a commanding 6-1 6-1 win, knocking out 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova to reach the second round. 2016 champion Angelique Kerber dropped only four games against Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy, winning 6-2, 6-2.

 

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