Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Rafael Nadal blazes through to Australian Open second round

Rafael Nadal blazes through to Australian Open second round

Maria Sharapova had no compassion for Harriet Dart after the Russian star inflicted a double-bagel defeat on her beleaguered opponent at the Australian Open.

After an abdominal problem and ankle surgery ended his season early, he pulled out of the warm-up tournament in Brisbane last week with a minor thigh strain.

Former world number one Sharapova barely raised a sweat in her 6-0 6-0 rout of British qualifier Dart in Melbourne on Monday.

Isner went up a break in the fourth set and served to force a fifth while ahead 5-4.

Dart, who described Sharapova as her idol before the match, lost in the first round at Wimbledon a year ago after being given a wild card in her only previous Grand Slam singles appearance.

To most, the return of Nadal was an exciting way to start the tournament, with the Spaniard returning to the biggest stage for the first time since last August. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown. I don't know my percentage, but was a lot of good positions after the first serve", he said. "I was glad that I did the right things from the beginning till the end".

Swiss maestro Federer, seeded three, has won the last two Australian Opens and is gunning for a record seventh crown and 21st Grand Slam title.

Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic.

Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

The 17-time Grand Slam victor, who cut short his 2018 season to have surgery on a foot injury, cruised into round two of the year's opening major 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 against Australian wildcard James Duckworth.

Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets.

She was on the wrong side of the ledger when American Lindsay Davenport beat her 6-0, 6-0 at Indian Wells in 2005.

Nadal used all his experience to win his next service game from 15-30 down before breaking Duckworth again for the straight-sets win.

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