Nadal delighted with straight sets win

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The Independent Online

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start to get the defence of his Australian Open crown off to a winning start against Peter Luczak in Melbourne on Monday.

The second seed looked tentative early but slowly wore down the 30-year-old Australian 7-6 (7/0) 6-1 6-4.

Cheered on by his home crowd Luczak served for the opening set at 5-3, but Nadal broke to set up a tie-break he did not lose a point in.

That sucked the life out of the Australian's challenge as Nadal then found his groove from the baseline.

The Spaniard made 10 unforced errors in the first set but thereafter he made just six more to progress in two hours and 34 minutes.

"You know always that you will be more nervous in the first round. First rounds are always difficult to play very well," Nadal said.

"So I thought it was going to be a tough match. The first set was tough. Later it was easier.

"Winning in three sets is good news. I am happy to be in the second round."

It was a good day for the top players as fifth seed Andy Murray and American Andy Roddick both won in straight sets, while reigning US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro needed four to overcome Michael Russell 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2.

The 21-year-old Argentinian revealed afterwards he was hampered by the wrist injury that forced him to pull out of the Kooyong Classic last week.

"I don't feel 100%, but I am feel better than yesterday and I hope be better for Wednesday in my next match," he said.

Asked if he felt pain while he was playing, he replied: "A little bit. After two hours the pain came and I feel a little bit, but I can play. I want to be here, I want to win matches."

Murray faced a giant challenge in the form of 6ft 8in qualifier Kevin Anderson, but had little trouble in winning 6-1 6-1 6-2.

The 22-year-old broke six of Anderson's first eight service games after the South African had not been broken in qualifying.

"It is a good start. He's a tough player. He's beaten (Novak) Djokovic before in Miami and he's won a tour event," Murray said.

"He's 6ft 8in so I wasn't expecting it to be easy.

"I just got off to a good start which helped. I broke him straight away which always makes a big difference."

Roddick was similarly happy with his 6-1 6-4 6-4 win over Thiemo de Bekker with his only major stumbling block involving a clash with a line judge.

"I ran into one of those immovable objects called a referee (line judge)," he said.

"He wasn't giving up any ground. I didn't see him. He wasn't really trying to do much to get out of the way."

The biggest casualty of the day was 13th seed Radek Stepanek, who lost a five-set battle with big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic 2-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 3-6 6-4.

Stepanek's defeat opened the draw for Karlovic's fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic who easily accounted for Australian Jason Kuble 6-1 6-2 6-2.