Rafael Nadal makes easy progress in Melbourne

 

Rafael Nadal swatted away the threat posed by American qualifier Alex Kuznetsov to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

Once an absorbing opening set went the 25-year-old Spaniard's way, there was no doubting which way the match would go as Nadal cruised to a 6-4 6-1 6-1 victory on Hisense Arena.

American Kuznetsov, born in Ukraine, had to win three matches to reach the first round at Melbourne Park and his dubious reward was the clash with a player he realistically had no hope against.

A glance at their career records shows world number two Nadal has won over 45 million US dollars in career prize-money, and Kuznetsov, eight months his junior, less than half a million. Nadal has 46 career titles including 10 grand slams, while Kuznetsov has a zero in that column.

Champion three years ago in Australia, Nadal is attempting to reach his second Australian Open final this fortnight and will run into greater challenges than that posed by Kuznetsov.

Although Nadal had an early break in the opening set, for a while it was a contest, with Kuznetsov playing some impressive tennis and hitting the mark with some fierce shots.

But he could not forge a break, or even a break point, when it mattered and Nadal served out for the set before making brisk progress through the next two.

Kuznetsov did not create a break point against Nadal's serve until the final game of the match, when he had two. The first he sacrificed by drifting the ball wide; on the second Nadal unleashed a crosscourt forehand winner.

The game was up for Kuznetsov, and Nadal sealed victory with an ace down the centre.

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