Melbourne - Rafael
Nadal powered into the second round of the Australian Open with a
commanding straight-sets win over Germany's Florian Mayer on Tuesday.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion looked back to his healthy best after
an injury-riddled 2016 as he beat the 49th-ranked Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
He will next play Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.
Last year Nadal was dumped out of the Open in the first round by
compatriot Fernando Verdasco in a five-set boilover but there was no
likelihood of a repeat ambush by Mayer.
"He doesn't have the typical game so he's going to the net. He
changes a lot with different points," Nadal said of his German opponent.
"You need to be careful doing every single shot that he is hitting,
so for me it is a great victory and I'm very happy to keep having
chances to play here in Melbourne.
"Today was a good first round for me. Florian is a tough first player to play against."
Nadal is bidding to win his second Australian Open after beating Roger Federer for the 2009 crown.
But a left wrist injury plagued the Spanish left-hander after the French Open last year and he missed Wimbledon.
"I was healthy enough to practise the way I wanted to practice, so
that's important for me and I was able to work a lot of things in
Majorca and happy to be back," Nadal said.
"I've had a longer period of time here in Australia, it was great experience and I was able to play in Brisbane."
Nadal took the opening set on his fifth set point with an ace and fought off Mayer to grab the second set.
His trademark never-say-die retrieving behind the baseline was a feature as he fought for every point.
Nadal broke Mayer's service in the ninth game of the final set with a
forehand winner and served out for a straight sets victory.