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NADAL DEFEATS OPPONENT

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. Advertising

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.

“It’s normal that beginnings are tough, but every day helps and every day makes me feel better, makes me feel more confident,” Nadal, whose 2018 season ended early with ankle surgery and an abdominal injury, told reporters.

“So that’s an important victory because (it) is the first victory since a while and at the same time… gives me the chance to be on court again. And that’s what I need.” Advertising

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.

But the 26-year-old Duckworth, who reached a career-high ranking of 82 in April, 2015, did not help his cause by looking to attack Nadal from the start and committing 40 unforced errors in the process, compared to just 11 from his opponent

Nadal, who is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era, and only the third man ever, to win each of the four Grand Slams twice, ran his opponent down with his superior court coverage and ability to hit winners under pressure.

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