Melbourne - Rafael Nadal resumes his march towards a 17th
Grand Slam title on Wednesday after dispelling any lingering injury concerns in
his first Australian Open match, with the Spanish star buoyed by feeling fit
The world number one faces Argentina's Leonardo Mayer in an
afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena on what is forecast to be a hot Melbourne
Mayer has never gone beyond the second round at seven
previous attempts at Melbourne Park, and there appears to be little hope that
he will trouble last year's finalist.
"I'm through to the second round and that's a positive
thing for me," Nadal said after losing only three games in his first-round
He said his body was feeling "good" and he had
"no problems" with his troublesome knee.
"The most important thing is just enjoy and keep having
the passion and the motivation to keep working hard, to be where I am
today," he said.
Surprisingly, he is not the prime-time men's night match on
centre court, with that honour going to third seed Grigor Dimitrov, who takes
on American Mackenzie McDonald.
The stylish Bulgarian admits he dreams about winning a Grand
Slam, but so far has never got beyond a semi-final.
"I'm going to deal with it. That's all I'm really focusing
on," he said about his drive to break his Grand Slam duck.
World number two Caroline Wozniacki also plays on Rod Laver
Arena, with her side of the draw wide open after the early exits of Venus
Williams, US Open champion Sloane Stephens and 10th seed CoCo Vandeweghe.
Like Dimitrov, the Dane is chasing her first Grand Slam
title with her next hurdle Croatia's Jana Fett.
"I've never played her before," she said of Fett.
"I guess I'll have to do some scouting and see how she's playing."
Fourth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who won the lead-up
Brisbane International after picking up five WTA Tour titles last year, is also
in action, playing Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Venus's conqueror, Belinda Bencic, faces Thailand's Luksika
Kumkhum on Hisense Arena, with Australian hope Nick Kyrgios the feature match
there in the evening against Serbia's Viktor Troicki.
Sixth seed Marin Cilic and French Open champion Jelena
Ostapenko are also in action.