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AUS OPEN: Nadal, Barty reach 2nd round

Melbourne, Feb 9 (IANS/AP) | Publish Date: 2/9/2021 11:55:12 AM IST

Rafael Nadal on Tuesday started off his chase for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam in an emphatic manner, registering a straight-sets win against Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the opening round contest of the men’s singles event of the Australian Open.

The World No. 2 defeated Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 51 minutes to reach the second round where he will play one of two qualifiers -- Michael Mmoh or Viktor Troicki.

Nadal did not compete in the ATP Cup due to injury. Earlier in the day, Daniel Medvedev also advanced to the second round, beating Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. However, there was disappointment for India’s Sumit Nagal who faced a crushing 2-6, 5-7, 3-6 defeat to Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis to bow out of the competition. On Monday, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic had registered comprehensive victories in their respective first-round clashes.

In her first match at a major in more than a year, top-ranked Ash Barty dropped only 10 points in a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Danka Kovinic. Barty lost to Sofia Kenin in the Australian Open semifinals last year and then skipped the U.S. Open and her title defense at the French Open because she stayed in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sofia Kenin struggled with nerves in her first match as a defending champion at a Grand Slam tournament earlier in the day before beating 133rd-ranked wild-card entry Maddison Inglis 7-5, 6-4,

Garbiñe Muguruza, the Australian Open runner-up last year, defeated Margarita Gasparyan 6-4, 6-0.

Players who were forced into hard lockdown — not allowed to leave their rooms for 14 days after landing in Australia last month — have struggled in the opening round.

Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion and the runner-up at last year’s U.S. Open, appeared to have trouble breathing and received medical attention in the second set of a 7-5, 6-4 loss to Jessica Pegula of the United States. .

Sumit Nagal crashes out 

Ace India tennis player Sumit Nagal on Tuesday faced a crushing straight-sets defeat against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the first round contest to bow out of the men’s singles event of the Australian Open.

Nagal, India’s second-highest ranked men’s singles player, lost 2-6, 5-7, 3-6 to Berankis in a match that lasted two hours and six minutes at Court 17. Last week, the 23-year-old Indian had lost to the world number 72 in the build-up event.

This was Nagal’s third Grand Slam men’s singles appearance as he had competed in 2019 and 2020 edition of US Open. He had won in the first round of the US Open in his last appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. It was the first time an Indian had progressed beyond the opening round of a Grand Slam in singles event since Somdev Devvarman in 2013.

Egypt’s Sherif creates history
Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian woman to win a main draw match at a Grand Slam when beating France’s Chloe Paquet at the Australian Open on Tuesday. The 24-year-old, who is currently ranked 131 in the world, beat 187th-ranked Paquet 7-5 7-5 in Melbourne.
The Egyptian was delighted to get a first Grand Slam win under her belt after losing to the Czech Republic’s Karolína Pliskova in three sets at last year’s French Open. “It means a lot because finally this is a barrier that I had to pass, a mental barrier,” said Sherif, who has has been buoyed in the past by support from fellow Egyptian Mo Salah.
Sherif will next face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, who won through after the withdrawal of Great Britain’s 13th seed Johanna Konta due to injury. Both the Egyptian and Paquet had won through to the main tournament at the qualifying event, which was held in Dubai - due to the global Covid-19 pandemic - last month. Tunisian star Jabeur wins first round match at 2021 Australian Open
“Honestly, it was not very easy to start,” said Sherif. “My second Grand Slam main draw, my first on a hard court, and the conditions are not easy.
“It was very, very tough to adapt to, especially to adapt my game. It took a while. Courts are faster, the heat, everything happens so fast, it’s very tough to control the ball.
 

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