Australian Open: Rafael Nadal roars past James Duckworth to enter 2nd round

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates his victory. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Melbourne VIC, Australia Jan 14, 2019, 10.58 AM (IST)

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

The 2009 Australian Open champion defeated Duckworth in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The Spaniard had not played an ATP Tour match since being forced to withdraw from his US Open semi-final because of a knee injury last September.

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.

The world No 2 began impressively to break Duckworth in the opening game of the match and eventually claim the first set in 39 minutes. The Australian, however, offered resistance in the second set when he secured a break of serve to establish a 2-0 lead.

Nadal, a 17-time major winner, broke back immediately with games soon going back on serve, before he gained two more breaks to move ahead two sets to love.


"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," Nadal said in an on-court interview. 

He will next play either another Australian Matthew Ebden or Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff who face off later on Monday.