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Australian Open: Rafael Nadal through; Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini also win


Rafael Nadal in close-up, watching the ball off his racquet as he plays a shot

Rafael Nadal has reached the Australian Open final five times but won only once, in 2009
2020 Australian Open
Venue:Melbourne ParkDates:20 January to 2 February
Coverage:Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Rafael Nadal cruised into the Australian Open second round with a straightforward victory over Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien.

Nadal, champion in Melbourne in 2009, dropped just five games in a 6-2 6-3 6-0 win over his 72nd-ranked opponent.

The Spaniard, runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year, is bidding to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.

“For me personally, it has been a very positive start,” the 33-year-old said.

“What you want is to win in the first round and, if you can do it in straight sets, even better.”

Nadal, who will play Federico Delbonis of Argentina next, has reached the Australian Open final five times but won it only once, beating Federer in a five-set epic 11 years ago.

He dropped serve twice against Dellien but barely looked troubled, hitting 38 winners to his opponent’s 15.

Fourth seedDaniil Medvedevcame through a testing first-round match against American Frances Tiafoe, winning 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes.

Russian Medvedev, beaten in five sets by Nadal in last year’s US Open final, plays Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez in the second round.

He said: “Many moments in the match, I felt like I had got the momentum and straight away he was coming back. For the first round, it’s a big win and I’m really happy.”

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‘I move like a giraffe sometimes’ – Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios’ best performance at the Australian Open was reaching the quarter-finals in 2015

AustralianNick Kyrgiosentertained a packed Melbourne Arena as the 23rd seed beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-1).

Kyrgios pledged before the tournament to donate 200 Australian dollars (£105; $137) for each ace he hits to the bushfire appeal and he hit 14 during his victory.

Former world number one John McEnroe told Kyrgios on court afterwards that he would donate A$1,000 for each set Kyrgios won during the rest of the tournament.

Kyrgios has been criticised in the past for his on-court behaviour but he said the bushfires that have devastated large parts of Australia had given him perspective on his game.

“Why am I really getting mad on the tennis court with everything going on?” he said.

“Every match I’ve played this year, I’ve been pretty good. It’s probably because of everything going on.”

The 24-year-old dedicated his victory to Australian men’s number one Alex de Minaur, who withdrew before the tournament with an abdominal injury.

Kyrgios slipped during his match but told McEnroe it was nothing serious, adding: “I move like a giraffe sometimes. I’m pretty dramatic sometimes – but you know all about that.”

He will face 35-year-old Frenchman Gilles Simon in the second round and could meet Nadal in the last 16.

‘You’re pathetic’ – Fognini & Opelka clash with umpire

Fabio Fognini smashed his racquet during the match and also confronted the umpire

Italian 12th seedFabio Fogninifought back from a two-set deficit to beat American Reilly Opelka in a bad-tempered match.

Opelka, who had earlier been given a code violation for time-wasting, shouted at the umpire when he felt Fognini should have been penalised for the same thing.

Fognini had earlier sworn at the umpire in Italian and broken a racquet.

After Fognini threw his racquet, Opelka approached Carlos Bernardes and said: “Let me ask you something, real quick. You’re pathetic.

“You give me one warning after one throw. He’s thrown his three or four times, bro.”

Opelka had led Fognini overnight after rain delayed their match, but was ultimately beaten 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

“You don’t want to engage with a guy like that,” Opelka said of Fognini after the match.

“You want to keep him out of the match as much as possible. It’s definitely not a positive thing.”

Reilly Opelka swore at umpire Carlos Bernardes during his first-round loss to Fabio Fognini

There were also wins on Tuesday for Austrian fifth seedDominic Thiem, Germany’s seventh seedAlexander Zverev, Spain’s ninth seedRoberto Bautista Agutand Argentine 14th seedDiego Schwartzman.

Zverev, who beat Marco Cecchinato 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, said in his on-court interview that he would donate A$10,000 for each victory to the bushfire appeal – and, should he win the tournament, he would donate all his prize money.

Stan Wawrinka,who won the title in 2014, progressed in four sets, while 2018 finalistMarin Cilicand 2016 semi-finalistMilos Raonicwon in straight sets.

However, promising 20th seedFelix Auger-Aliassimewas beaten by veteran Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.

The 19-year-old Canadian lost 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to the former world number 10, who has fallen to 256 in the rankings after struggles with his form.

Russian 16th seedKaren Khachanovfought back from a set down to advance, while Russian 17th seedAndrey Rublev,who has won two titles this year, also progressed.

Croatia’s 40-year-old veteranIvo Karlovicbeat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 and will play French 10th seedGael Monfilsnext.

American 19th seedJohn Isnerwon three out of four tie-breaks to defeat Brazilian Thiago Monteiro 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5).

Kevin Anderson, Wimbledon finalist in 2018 and US Open finalist in 2017, won a final-set tie-break to defeat Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-4 2-6 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) in a match that finished at just after 1.30am local time.

There was disappointment for former world number five Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had to retire from his match against 20-year-old AustralianAlexei Popyrinwith a back injury.

“It is a painful one – he was my hero as a kid,” Popyrin said of 34-year-old Tsonga.

“When he made the final here [in 2008] I was in my living room jumping around like a crazy kid.”

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