Rafael Nadal strolls into second-round of the Australian Open

Rafael Nadal strolls into second-round of the Australian Open with straight sets win over James Duckworth

  • Rafael Nadal allayed injury fears with a straight sets win over James Duckworth
  • The 17-time Grand Slam champion registered a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 victory
  • Spaniard missed the Brisbane International this month with a thigh injury

Press Association Sport Staff

and
Associated Press Reporter

Rafael Nadal made a winning return to tennis with a first-round victory over James Duckworth at the Australian Open.

The Spaniard had not played a match since retiring during his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro last August with knee pain.

After an abdominal problem and ankle surgery ended his season early, he pulled out of the tournament in Brisbane last week with a minor thigh strain.

Rafael Nadal lets out a roar on his way to a straight sets win over James Duckworth

Rafael Nadal lets out a roar on his way to a straight sets win over James Duckworth

Rafael Nadal plays a backhand shot during his first-round meeting with James Duckworth

Rafael Nadal plays a backhand shot during his first-round meeting with James Duckworth

Nadal was back to his best on the Rod Laver Arena as he registered a straight sets victory

Nadal was back to his best on the Rod Laver Arena as he registered a straight sets victory

Nadal did not have things all his own way against Australian wild card Duckworth, going a break down early in the second set and then being broken serving for the match, but he came through 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

Nadal said in his on-court interview: ‘It’s not easy to come back after a lot of months, and especially against a player who’s super aggressive.

‘I’m very, very happy to be through.’

Fifth seed Kevin Anderson, who has been a grand slam finalist twice in the last five tournaments, avoided a second successive first-round exit here, beating Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

The Spaniard takes a breather and cools down on a sweltering sunny day in Melbourne

The Spaniard takes a breather and cools down on a sweltering sunny day in Melbourne

The Australian outsider was cheered on by the partisan home crowd on Rod Laver Arena

The Australian outsider was cheered on by the partisan home crowd on Rod Laver Arena


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