Seamless Nadal drubs Australian Duckworth in Melbourne opener

Tennis – Australian Open – First Round – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 14, 2019. Spain’s Rafael Nadal eyes the ball during the match against Australia’s James Duckworth. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former champion Rafa Nadal showed no signs of discomfort from his thigh strain as he sailed through to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 win over local hope James Duckworth on Monday.

The first meeting between the 17-times Grand Slam champion, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2009, and Australian wildcard Duckworth, who is ranked 238 in the world, always had the potential to be an uneven contest.

The second-seeded Spaniard had pulled out of the Brisbane warmup with a thigh strain to raise doubts about his campaign but he allayed those fears on Rod Laver Arena against an error-prone opponent.

The Spaniard, who will next meet the winner of Australian Matthew Ebden’s contest with Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, broke Duckworth six times while surrendering his serve twice and brought an end to the match with a brilliant crosscourt winner.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney

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