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Australian Open: Nadal untested to begin ‘Rafa Slam’ Bid

MELBOURNE – World No. 1 Rafael Nadal made a resounding start to his ‘Rafa Slam’ bid, racing out to a 6-0, 5-0 lead on Tuesday at the Australian Open when Brazilian Marcos Daniel retired with a knee injury, atpworldtour.com notes. Nadal hit 25 winners and converted on all six of his break points in the 47-minute match, while holding his opponent to 12 points total. The Spaniard briefly lost his focus in the second game of the second set, committing a flurry of unforced errors, but he saved four break points to hold serve. “Is difficult to say something, to say I played really well, I played bad,” Nadal said after the game. It marked the second time in his career that Nadal won a tour-level match without dropping a single game. In 2003 at Barcelona, he bagelled Juan Antonio Marin in the opening set before the Costa Rican retired with an injury.


Nadal, who is now undefeated in 22 straight Grand Slam matches, is attempting to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive majors. He claimed the Australian Open title two years ago with victory over Roger Federer in the final. Three other seeded Spaniards advanced in first-round action Tuesday afternoon at Melbourne Park. World No. 7 David Ferrer, who won his 10th ATP World Tour title on Saturday in Auckland (d. Nalbandian), held off Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in just under two hours.


SORANA CIRSTEA AND SIMONA HALEP IN SECOND ROUND


Romanian players Sorana Cirstea and Si­mo­na Halep have qualified for the second round at the Australian open. Sorana defeated Croatia’s Mi­rjana Lucici (98th WTA), score 6-4, 6-2, while Simona defeated Luxembourg’s Anne Kre­mer (196th WTA), score 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Halep will next play against Russia’s Alisa Kleibanova (top seed 24), while Cirstea will play against Is­rael’s Shahar Peer (top seed 10). Unfortunately Ro­mania’s Alexandra Dulgheru (30th WTA) lost to Japan’s Ayumi Morita (74th WTA), score 4-6, 4-6.

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