Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova advance in straight sets at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova advance in straight sets at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova advance in straight sets at Australian Open

Sharapova said she was still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open.

A ruthless Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in a clinical first-round thumping of wildcard James Duckworth at the Australian Open on Monday.

"I played against a super-aggressive player".

Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams - to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco here in 2016 - and is aiming to be the first man in the Open era two win all four majors at least twice.

Sharapova, a victor at Melbourne Park in 2008 who has failed to impress at Grand Slam level since returning from a doping ban in 2017, signalled her intent with a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of Britain's Harriet Dart, who ended the match in tears.

Instead of playing to the death, third or fifth sets now go to a tie-break when the score reaches 6-6 and it becomes the first to 10.

The 2008 Australian Open champion got play started on Rod Laver Arena and needed only 63 minutes to advance.

Denmark's Wozniacki broke through for her first Slam title in Melbourne a year ago, beating Simona Halep in the final, and gets her tournament underway against Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck.

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The former world number one said Andy Murray's announcement that this year's tournament Down Under would be his last had underlined her determination to make the most of her time in the spotlight.

And can Sharapova regain the forehand potency that made her a multiple Grand Slam champion? "I don't know my percentage, but was a lot of good positions after the first serve", he said. "I saw him beginning of December, and he says it's a day-by-day pain management situation".

"From that perspective, I just have a very different opinion".

The Spaniard, who is seeking his second title at Melbourne Park, emerged with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory despite recovering from a recent thigh strain that forced him to pull out of the Brisbane warm-up event.

Britain's Katie Boulter, meanwhile, created a slice of history by becoming the first woman to win in a third set tiebreak -- a new rule introduced to the Open this year.

Nadal swatted aside the home hope Duckworth 6-4 6-3 7-5 in a performance that eased concerns over his fitness ahead of the season's first major. After losing two service games in the match, Nadal was pleased with it. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili and No. 26 Fernando Verdasco.

Defending champions Caroline Wozniacki and Roger Federer were scheduled to play night matches later Monday.

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