It was Rafael Nadal's first match since his US Open retirement in the semifinals. There were some signs of rustiness, but for the most part, the world number two looked good in taking out James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
Nervy But Strong
It was the quick start that Nadal would have dreamed of, breaking in the opening game. The Spaniard has always talked about his nerves in the opening stages of Grand Slams despite his immense silverware haul. What everyone was looking to see was the new Nadal serve that coach Carlos Moya has brought up.
The second seed's serve had less spin on it, keeping the pace it has when it hits the court as when he first makes racquet contact. The one break was good enough to see Nadal through for the first set.
Duckworth broke Nadal's first service game of the second and his serve and volley tactics were throwing the Spaniard off. He could not hold firm however, giving the break right back despite holding a 40-0 lead. A couple of missed volleys helped Nadal back into the game before hitting the Australian with a trademark forehand pass.
The 2-0 lead evaporated with the world number two winning six of the last seven games to take the set.
The third set didn't start like the others with the first break of serve going to Nadal at 4-2. Duckworth showed he wouldn't go down easily after breaking at love at 4-5. The Spaniard closed it out at 7-5 as he continues to ease himself through the draw.
A Little Serious, A Little Fun
Nadal had not heard the news that embattled ATP President Chris Kermode's job was up to a crucial vote. None of the player council representatives had made him aware which left him frustrated. He does show support for Chris Kermode though.
He was also upset that the tour had not shown the support of Mallorca during the floods. Despite some serious portions, there was a lighthearted moment which saw Nadal catch a journalist sleeping which prompted the Spaniard to say that the journalist was not sleeping but was just closing his eyes to focus harder on what he was saying.