Seamless Nadal drubs Australian Duckworth in Melbourne opener

Tanya Simon
January 14, 2019

"Today he went on court with the determination to not play tennis the way I understand tennis", Nadal told reporters.

Wearing a sleeveless top, he showed no signs of any issues against Duckworth.

Five-time Grand Slam victor Maria Sharapova warned she can not be written off at this year's Australian Open after serving a 6-0, 6-0 "double bagel" to Britain's Harriet Dart in the first round Monday.

In her 15th trip to Melbourne Park and her 55th Grand Slam tournament, she's acutely aware of the toll that the sun and long early matches can have on a player's title ambitions, so she gets straight to business.

The 22-year-old Dart had a game point on her serve in the eighth game of the match, but Sharapova rallied to break the British player and continue the rout.

The second set followed the same pattern, with Dart finally put out of her misery trying to save match point when she hit a return wide despite having an open court before her.

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.

Sharapova said she was still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open.

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Dart, who made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon as a wildcard but made 21 unforced errors against Sharapova, was clearly devastated after the loss.

"I'm just excited. I think it's a positive to be here as the defending champion".

"I mean, there is no time for that, I'm sorry to say", the 2008 victor told reporters.

"And, you know, trust that that's going to pay dividends for me in the future".

Up next for Sharapova is Rebecca Peterson, who beat Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 6-1.

There were also questions about the 2017 US Open winner's form coming into the tournament after poor performances this month at warm-ups in Brisbane and Sydney. Marin Cilic beat Bernard Tomic 6-2 6-4 7-6. But Nadal returned the favour, breaking the Australian in the final game of the match.

Anderson, the fifth seed at the year's first Grand Slam, saw off tricky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 53 minutes. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili and No. 26 Fernando Verdasco.

Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki open their title defences later in the day, while Andy Murray takes to the court for what could be his farewell match in Melbourne and potentially his last ever.

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