Australian Open 2020: Rafael Nadal begins tournament with easy win; 'Next Gen' star Jannik Sinner makes successful debut

  • Rafael Nadal had a 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 win over Hugo Dellien in his first competitive match at the Australian Open 2020

  • The top-ranked Nadal is chasing his 20th major singles title, aiming to equal Roger Federer's men's record

  • Dominic Thiem opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino

Melbourne: Rafa Nadal hit the ground running at the Australian Open on Tuesday by hammering unseeded Bolivian Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-3 6-0 to reach the second round.

 Australian Open 2020: Rafael Nadal begins tournament with easy win; Next Gen star Jannik Sinner makes successful debut

Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Bolivia's Hugo Dellien during their first round match at the Australian Open. AP

The top seeded Spaniard has never lost to a player ranked as low as world number 72 Dellien at the year’s first Grand Slam and was never in danger on a sunbathed afternoon at Rod Laver Arena.

Bidding for his second title at Melbourne Park, and 20th Grand Slam trophy to match his great rival Roger Federer, Nadal was broken twice by the hard-working Dellien.

But the 33-year-old Mallorcan was virtually flawless in the final set and sealed the match with a crushing forehand winner to set up a second-round clash with either Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa.

Thiem cruises past Mannarino

Dominic Thiem opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over France’s Adrian Mannarino.

The fifth seed wobbled midway through the second set when he was broken and allowed Mannarino to level at 4-4, but the 26-year-old Austrian recovered quickly, proving strong in the longer rallies, including a 28-shot stunner, to break Mannarino’s serve towards the end of the set.

Thiem sealed victory with his seventh ace after two hours and 21 minutes to set up a meeting with either Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Australian wildcard Alex Bolt.

'Next Gen' star Sinner makes successful Melbourne debut

Being labelled the ‘next big thing’ in men’s tennis can be a heavy burden for a teenager but Jannik Sinner wore the mantle lightly in winning his debut at the Australian Open.

The shaggy-haired 18-year-old, who won the ATP’s Next Gen championship in November, finished off Australian qualifier Max Purcell 7-6(2) 6-2 6-4 on Court 7 after his victory march was stalled in the third set by torrential rain that halted play on outside courts on Monday.

Sinner, who hails from a German-speaking region in the Italian Alps, dealt with the rain break with the same minimum of fuss that he has in managing his rapid rise in tennis.

“We waited here till 8:00 p.m. (on Monday), so it’s been a long day yesterday for me, for every player,” he told reporters.

“I tried to go on court with a good mentality, and I started well. Yeah, that was the key.”

Sinner, ranked 82nd in the world, underlined his enormous promise by upsetting No. 23 Australian Alex De Minaur in the Next Gen final in front of home fans in Milan.

The $372,000 winner’s cheque comfortably topped his total career earnings to that point.

The Italian certainly caught the eye of American great John McEnroe.

“He’s one of the most talented kids I’ve seen in 10 years,” McEnroe said of Sinner last week.

Top players have being keen to get some practice hits with him, with Swiss master Roger Federer impressed by Sinner’s groundstrokes and footwork.

“What I like about him is he’s almost got the same speed of shot on forehand and backhand,” the 20-times Grand Slam champion said at Melbourne Park on Monday.

“Then he can play again like most of the best movers in the world right now ... I think we’ll see so much more from him. He’s an exciting guy and a super sweet kid.”

Sinner is coached by compatriot Riccardo Piatti, who worked with Novak Djokovic in his teen years along with other former top 10 players like Milos Raonic and Richard Gasquet.

He next faces Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who played brilliantly to down Canada’s young gun Denis Shapovalov, the 13th seed.

Despite his rapid rise up the rankings, Sinner is in no hurry and knows time is on his side.

“I’m not thinking so much about the ranking. We are just trying to make match after match good, trying to play better, and then we will see,” he added.

“I don’t want to (be) rushed about this.”

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev outlasts Frances Tiafoe

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia held his nerve in a war of attrition against American Frances Tiafoe to register a 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The U.S. Open finalist broke Tiafoe’s serve three times to breeze through the opening set, but the American came roaring back to level the match in the second, displaying a never-say-die attitude in front of an appreciative Rod Laver Arena crowd.

World number 50 Tiafoe reached the quarter-final in Melbourne in 2019 and matched his higher-ranked opponent in the duels both from the baseline and at the net, but it was ultimately not enough against the Russian.

Medvedev showed why he is seen by John McEnroe as the best bet to break the stranglehold of the ‘Big Three’ in men’s tennis at a Grand Slam, and he will play either German Dominik Koepfer or Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez in the second round.

With inputs from Agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 21, 2020 17:56:35 IST