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  17 Jan 2022, 12:32

Nadal makes scorching start in bid for record 21st Slam

 MELBOURNE, Jan 17, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Rafael Nadal, the only

Australian Open champion in the men's draw after nine-time winner
Novak Djokovic's deportation, opened his campaign in blistering
fashion in Melbourne on Monday.

     The Spanish sixth seed unleashed some of his trademark hammer
forehands to wear down American Marcos Giron in straight sets on
Rod Laver Arena.

     Nadal, who beat Roger Federer for the 2009 Australian title
and is chasing a record 21st Grand Slam crown, traded blows with
the world number 66 Giron, winning 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

     Nadal will next play Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis or
Germany's Yannick Hanfmann in the second round.

     "You never know when you come back from injuries, things are
difficult, you go day by day, but I'm staying positive," said
Nadal, who is working his way back from a foot injury.

     "I won three matches and a title here last week. I have had
very challenging months, tough moments and a lot of doubts, but I
have been able to manage my foot injury."

     Nadal said he was still a little tired after contracting the
Covid virus before coming to Australia, but added: "The symptoms
haven't been nice, I was in bed for four days, but I am starting
to feel better and I had negative PCR tests before coming to
Australia."

 

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