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Djokovic makes no mistake against Verdasco

Novak Djokovic launched his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title with an impressive 6-1 7-6(4) 6-2 win over hard-hitting Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Djokovic makes no mistake against Verdasco
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Fernando Verdasco reacts after losing a point against Novak Djokovic in their first round match

Melbourne

The defending champion defended brilliantly at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena to frustrate the man who knocked Rafa Nadal out in the first round last year. Djokovic was forced to save five match points to beat Verdasco at the recent Qatar Open and was broken twice during a thrilling second set on the Melbourne Park centre court. But the Serb raised his game as the 33-year-old flagged in the third to set up a second round match against either Ivan Dodig or Denis Istomin.

Rafa storms into second round

Perhaps he’s solar-powered. As the sun beat down on Melbourne Park on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal scorched a path to the Australian Open second round with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over Germany’s Florian Mayer that confined last year’s first-round exit to history. 

As temperatures around Melbourne Park rose into the high 30s, the 2009 champion turned up the heat in spectacular fashion at Rod Laver Arena with an exhilarating display that backed up his assertion that his injury problems are behind him once more. 

“The body is good,” said Nadal, no longer troubled by the lingering wrist injury that blighted most of his 2016 season. “And that’s the key. If the body is not good, everything is more difficult. After Roland Garros everything was more difficult [last year], but that’s in the past.” 

Up next for Nadal is 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who advanced after Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny retired while trailing 6-3 3-0. The Spaniard leads their head-tohead 8-1 and is in good form to claim a ninth win with a No.9 next to his name – an unfamiliar seeding that he admits does have an impact on his confidence.

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