Rafael Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, wasted no time in reaching the third round, dropping only one service game _ while serving for the match _ and making just 10 unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday.
“It’s an important victory for me, I mean, he’s a tough opponent. Leonardo is a player with big potential,” said Nadal, who won the French and U.S. Opens last year but had his preparation for Australia delayed because of an injured right knee. “After a while without being on the competition … second victory in a row, that’s very important.”
“Playing this court is always a big motivation for me,” said Nadal, who lost last year’s final to Roger Federer.
Nadal, who lost in the final here last year to Roger Federer, served for the match but was broken in the 10th game, with Mayer hitting a cross-court winner that clipped the line.
In the tiebreaker, Nadal won on his first match point with a service winner.
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“He was a dangerous opponent and I’m happy to be in the third round.”
“For my team and my family, this is our favorite tournament of the year, so I hope to stay around a bit longer.”
Nadal, showing no signs of the troublesome knee that bothered him late last season and interrupted his Melbourne lead-up, next plays Bosnian 28th seed Damir Dzumhur.
Temperatures are forecast to rise sharply on Australia’s south-east coast over the next couple of days and Nadal has urged tournament organisers to make use of the three retractable roofs at Melbourne Park.
“I would not like to see retirements, conditions that create a bad show for the crowd,” said the world number one.
“In the courts that we have the roof, why not put the roof when the conditions are so extreme?”