While he was not at his vintage best, Rafael Nadal did enough to progress through the opening round of the Australian Open yesterday. The defending champion and second seed was forced to work hard to beat the home favourite Peter Luczak, 7-6, 6-1, 6-4, in Melbourne. The Spaniard looked to have a real fight on his hands when Luczak broke serve in the eighth game of the first set. But the 30-year-old Australian double faulted twice while serving for the set, allowing Nadal to draw level and eventually take it to a tie break which he won 7-0.
Nadal then ruthlessly moved into another gear in the second set, which took only 33 minutes, before taking the third to clinch victory. The fourth seed, Juan Martin del Potro, dropped a set to the American Michael Russell before going through 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The US Open champion had been hampered by a wrist injury in the build-up to the event, but said he is confident it will not affect his chances later in the tournament.
Britain's Andy Murray had no problems in his first-round match, storming past the South African qualifier Russell Anderson 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. Next up for Murray will be either France's Marc Giquel or the Italian, Simone Bolelli. Andy Roddick also progressed with ease, overcoming Thiemo De Bakker 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. A 45-minute rain delay in the second set failed to affect the American seventh-seed's momentum and he brushed aside his Dutch opponent without needing to play his best tennis.
Roddick came through a collision with a line-judge unscathed but berated the official afterwards for not making a bigger effort to get out of his way. The three-times champion and No 1 seed, Roger Federer, begins his challenge today against the Russian Igor Andreev. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org