AFP Brisbane, Australia
Spaniard took only 74 minutes to see off Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3
Former world number one Rafael Nadal enjoyed an ideal start to his first Brisbane International yesterday, storming into the second round with a straight sets win over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. Nadal took only 74 minutes to see off Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3 and book a second round clash with Germany’s Mischa Zverev, who earlier outclassed 17-year-old Australian qualifier Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-3.
Dolgopolov had beaten Nadal on their previous two encounters and he started well, breaking the Spaniard’s second service game.
But Nadal broke straight back then broke again to take the first set in 39 minutes. He broke once more in the second set to the delight of the packed house at Pat Rafter Arena. “It’s tough to play against him,” Nadal said of Dolgopolov. “He’s able to — he plays a little bit Kamikaze, you know. He’s very aggressive with all the shots. It’s difficult to construct a point with him.”
Nadal, who played the last match of the day and finished just before midnight, only arrived in Brisbane from Abu Dhabi on Monday and said he was struggling to adapt to the time difference.
“Today, at two in the afternoon I was on the bed,” he said. “I was destroyed. I’m not sure if it’s better to play earlier or not. I think for the moment, I think it’s better for me to play later. I played great in Abu Dhabi (where he won an exhibition tournament),” he added.
“I like the conditions there, and a lot of years I played well there. That’s always important for me. And here is an important event for me, because it’s the second event of the year and the first ATP event. It’s great to start the new year with a victory in the ATP Tour.”
Earlier, fifth seed Lucas Pouille recovered from 0-5 in the first set to see off fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4) and set up a second round clash against Britain’s Kyle Edmund. Australian wildcard Sam Groth won his first match in the ATP main draw since July when he beat France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
US qualifier Jared Donaldson upset Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-4, while Viktor Troicki of Serbia downed Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 7-5. Argentine Diego Schwartzman upset Sam Querrey of the US 6-2, 6-4.
Muguruza survives big scare
In the women’s, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza saved a match point before seeing off Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the second round. The 23-year-old Spaniard won 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7) over the 19-year-old Kasatkina, who served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, only to be broken by the fourth-seeded Muguruza.
Muguruza then kept her nerve in the tiebreak, holding on to win in just under three hours. It was her second three-set win in as many days after she edged Australian Samantha Stosur on Monday.
Third seed Czech Karolina Pliskova earlier continued her impressive form when she stormed past US qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-1, 6-4. However, sixth seed Elina Svitolina was pushed hard by American Shelby Rogers before winning in three sets 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.
France’s Alize Cornet stormed into the quarter-finals when she demolished Christina McHale in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Cornet will play either second seed Dominika Cibulkova or China’s Zhang Shuai in the quarter-finals.
Earlier, Australian teenager Destanee Aiava created a slice of history when she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a main draw match on the WTA Tour. The 16-year-old Aiava beat fellow qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the US 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a rain-delayed first-round match.
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