Nadal cruises into second round

World number one Rafael Nadal insisted Tuesday that matching or beating Roger Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam titles is not important and he was “super happy” with his tennis career regardless.
NADAL
NADAL

Melbourne

The Spaniard launched his campaign to equal the Swiss great’s mark by dropping just five games in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 annihilation of Bolivian Hugo Dellien in the Australian Open first round. The Mallorcan, the first man to be world number one in three different decades, can not only match his great rival’s achievement, but also become the first man in the Open era to win all four Majors at least twice if he lifts the trophy again at Melbourne Park.

It is a big ask for the 33-year-old Nadal, who has only won the title once before in Australia, against a tearful Federer in 2009, with four runner-up finishes to his name. “I don’t care about 20 or 15 or 16. I just care about trying to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career,” said Nadal.

“It’s not like 20 is the number that I need to reach. If I reach 20, fantastic. If I reach 21, better. If I reach 19, super happy about all the things that I did in my tennis career. I am very satisfied about my tennis career because I give it all most of the time,” he added. “That’s the only thing that matters.”

Sharapova knocked out
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is set to tumble outside the top 350 players in the world after falling in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Sharapova lost her third consecutive first round match at a major, coughing up a 4-1 lead in the second set before losing 6-3, 6-4 to 19th seed Donna Vekic. The 2008 Australian Open winner hasn’t made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park since she reached the quarter-finals in 2015 and doesn’t know if she will return in 2021.

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Sharapova told reporters after her first round loss on Tuesday. “I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to [Tournament director] Craig [Tiley] and the team allowing me to be part of this event. It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”

Sharapova refused to use her lingering shoulder issue as an excuse for her straight sets exit against the rising Croatian star. “I think I’m not the only one (who plays with an injury),” she said.

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