Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open

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Rafael Nadal launched his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title in blistering fashion in Melbourne with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Marcos Giron.

Nadal, the only Australian Open champion in the men’s draw after nine-time winner Novak Djokovic lost his appeal against having his visa cancelled on the eve of the tournament, was all guns blazing in a spectacular first-round win on Rod Laver Arena.

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The Spanish sixth seed, who beat Roger Federer for the 2009 Australian title and is vying with Djokovic and Federer to reach a record 21st Grand Slam crown, bludgeoned his American opponent.

Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
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Nadal started off with an ace before firing down 34 winners to see off world No 6 Giron in a little under two hours.

The 35-year-old won his 89th Tour title last week as he swept through the field last week to win a warm-up event at Melbourne Park, having had Covid only last month and suffered a foot injury in 2021.

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“Twelve events in two years are not many,” Nadal said, reflecting on an injury-marred couple of years.

“If we add that I was not able to practise very often, too, it’s a really tough one.

“But here I am. I am super happy about all the work that we have done to try to be back. We are here enjoying the tennis, and that’s it. We’re going to keep trying hard.

“I need time on the Tour to try and recover the level that I need to fight for the things that I want and be healthy.

“If that happens, I hope to keep having chances to keep going and fight for the things.”

Djokovic on his way back to Belgrade from Dubai

Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
Rafa Nadal 'super happy' as he makes scorching start at Australian Open
Novak Djokovic prepares to take his seat on a plane to Belgrade from Dubai International Airport on Monday, January 17, 2022. Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after losing a bid to stay in the country to defend his Australian Open title despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19. AP Photo Novak Djokovic prepares to take his seat on a plane to Belgrade, where he is assured of a hero’s welcome in the Serb capital. AP Photo Novak Djokovic prepares to take his seat on a plane bound for Belgrade, in Dubai,. AP Photo Novak Djokovic prepares to take his seat. AP Photo Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is seen after boarding a plane bound for Belgrade, after the Australian Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Dubai. Reuters

Warhorse Nadal ended his season in August because of his foot, then contracted Covid-19 in December while competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, saying it left him “very sick”.

“I tell you one thing, the knees have been better than ever after that period of time. But the foot was worse than ever for the last year-and-a-half,” he said.

“I always had the problem with the foot during all my tennis career that sometimes especially on the cold conditions I suffered a lot.

“But I was able to play all my career with not many limitations in terms of competing in the tournaments.

“Today is one victory in the first Grand Slam. Happy for that. One month ago situation had been different – looks very ugly in some way.

“Now here we are.”

Nadal will next play Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis or Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann.

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