Tennis: New-look Nadal wins in Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia ó Rafael Nadal ditched his trademark sleeveless top in favor of a more conservative T-shirt.
His bulging biceps may no longer be exposed to view, but they’re certainly still driving the top-ranked player’s muscular approach to the game.
The 22-year-old Spaniard bullied Christophe Rochus around Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night with some brutal forehands and 10 aces in a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 first-round win at the Australian Open.
He hit 47 winners in 22 games and Rochus, a Belgian who turned 30 last month, could get nowhere near most of them.
Having the last match of the opening round had its advantages for Nadal. He’d already had a chance to see how Roger Federer, defending champion Novak Djokovic and fourth-ranked Andy Murray had progressed.
He would get another look at Federer and Djokovic in the second round Wednesday. Match two in Federer’s quest to tie Pete Sampras’ record 14th Grand Slam title is against Russian Evgeny Korolev.
Nadal deflected a question about his intentions with such an aggressive start. He was less interested in upping the ante on his highly ranked rivals, he said, than in gauging himself after a 11/2-month layoff for tendinitis in his right knee.
“I am no thinking nothing about this,” he said. “I just think about try to play well myself. Roger and Novak and Murray, they are far (away) in the draw.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic was particularly dominating on his serve in the 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 victory.
The Williams sisters navigated the first step in the path to a potential semifinal showdown and, rather than do their own thing on the days between singles matches, have decided to team up in the doubles.
Serena Williams opened her campaign for a 10th major ó and to continue her odd-year pattern of Australian titles that stretches back to 2003 ó with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 123rd-ranked Yuan Meng.
The temperature topped 104 degrees during the match, prompting Williams to finish points quickly, spend time in the shade and conserve fuel.
“I was able to just take my time and play a lot slower, not giving 1,000 percent,” she said. “I think it was pretty important for me not to … go crazy out there.”
The temperature had dropped to 79 degrees for Venus Williams 6-3, 6-3 win over Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Ana Ivanovic has won her second-round match at the Australian Open.
The fifth-seeded Ivanovic beat Alberta Brianti of Italy 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday to advance to a third-round match against either Russian Alisa Kleybanova or Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France.