Australian Open: Nadal, Djokovic cruise to second round

Rafael Nadal struck 39 winners in his straight sets win over Florian Mayer at the Rod Laver Arena to sail to the second round.

Rafa Nadal

Spain's Rafael Nadal jumps as he hits a shot during his men's singles first round match against Germany's Florian Mayer.   -  Reuters

Rafael Nadal easily avoided the embarrassment of a back-to-back first round exits at the Australian Open on Tuesday, ramping up his serve and rattling off 39 winners to beat Florian Mayer 6-3 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2009 champion, seeded ninth after a disappointing injury-disrupted 2016 season, grasped his chances ruthlessly to overcome the German in a little over two hours in the brutal afternoon heat at Melbourne Park.

> TOURNAMENT TRACKER

A single break in each of the first two sets followed by some dominant serving was enough to give him a comfortable lead going into the third, which the Spaniard wrapped up with a 25th sizzling forehand winner.

The 14-times Grand Slam champion, who was watched by new coach Carlos Moya, moves on to a second round clash with Cyprus's former Melbourne Park finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

READ: >Detailed report

DJOKOVIC BEATS VERDASCO 6-1, 7-6, 6-2

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic doused big-hitting Spaniard Fernando Verdasco to win the opening match of his Australian Open title defence in Melbourne.

The indomitable Serb second seed avoided a potential first round exit against Verdasco, who knocked out Rafael Nadal in last year's first round.

Djokovic prevailed 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in 2hr 20min on Rod Laver Arena to progress to a second round encounter with either Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin or Croatia's Ivan Dodig.

READ: >Detailed report

RAONIC BEATS BROWN 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

Canada's power server Milos Raonic eased into the second round with a convincing straight sets win over German Dustin Brown.

The third seed, who was a semifinalist in Melbourne last year, spent just 93 minutes on Margaret Court Arena to dish out a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 lesson to the dreadlocked Brown.

 

He thundered down 18 aces among his 46 winners and won an impressive 82 percent of his first serves in a dominant performance.

READ: >Serena marches on, Pliskova steamrolls opponent

The 66th ranked Brown, who changed nationality from Jamaican to German in 2010, had little to offer. His serve was broken four times and he could not convert any of his three break point opportunities against the Canadian.

ZVEREV BEATS HAASE 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2

Rising German teen star Alexander Zverev recovered from a racquet-slamming meltdown to win the first Australian Open match of his hotly tipped career on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old hotshot looked headed for defeat when he was down a service break early in the fourth set against Dutch journeyman Robin Haase -- only to surge home in five sets.

The 24th-ranked Zverev claimed a 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 win over the 57th-ranked Dutchman in 2hr 55min on a sun-drenched Hisense Arena.

He faces either Mikhail Kukushkin or Frances Tiafoe in the second round. "Robin played very well and I was very fortunate to come back," Zverev said.

OTHER MAIN RESULTS

13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain sailed into the second round with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over Argentine Guido Pella. Agut will meet Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Austria's Dominic Thiem dropped the first set in his four-set win over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff to progress to the second round. Thiem, 23, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to set up a second round clash against Australia's Jordan Thompson.

Gael Monfils, seeded sixth, beat Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely in straight sets to progress to the second round, where Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov awaits him.