Nadal plays down title chances

Published: Monday 19th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Rafael Nadal refused to get carried away by his first round win in the Australian Open on Monday, despite admitting he found beating Mikhail Youzhny easier than expected.

Nadal won his ninth French Open title last year, but lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon and then spent almost three months on the sidelines with a wrist injury that forced him to miss the US Open.

After returning to action the 28-year-old was diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent an operation at the start of November, leaving him pessimistic about his chances of winning a second title in Melbourne.

Those chances looked to have improved greatly after he dispatched the dangerous Youzhny 6-3 6-2 6-2, but Nadal said: “What I say the other day is the real thing. Today is very hard to speak about having chances. I have won one match.

“That’s better than two days ago but I need more to feel that I am ready for something very important here so it is not the right moment to talk about that. It’s the moment to really give to this victory the right value.”

Asked if the match had proved easier than expected, Nadal added: “Sure, this is true. It’s a very positive result for me. Always before the first match you have the doubts, especially in this situation I’m arriving in here. It’s never easy, but it was a comfortable victory that give me some confidence.”

After Nadal made short work of Youzhny, his own shorts came in for some attention due to their length – or lack thereof.

“To make the shorts shorter is something that I like,” said Nadal, whose pre-shot routine often featured him re-arranging his clothing. “I feel more comfortable this way. We make it shorter already last year, and this year a little bit more.

“I feel more comfortable here, more fresh. Sometimes is good to have some changes, to try different things. But seriously, I prefer this way.”

Nadal was joined in the second round by second seed Roger Federer, who also did not drop a set in beating Yen-Hsun Lu in the first match of the evening session on Rod Laver Arena.

Seeking his 18th grand slam title and first in Melbourne since 2010, Federer was in complete command against the world number 47, winning 6-4 6-2 7-5 in one hour and 53 minutes.

The 33-year-old, who fired nine aces and won 86 per cent of points on his first serve, said: “I thought it was a really good level. Lu played a tough match and I really had to step it up. I’ve played him before so knew what he was capable of.

“The season is still early and it’s tough to get rhythm, especially in the first round but it was a nice match.”

Earlier in the day, 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov needed just 69 minutes to beat Dustin Brown 6-2 6-3 6-2, while potential fourth round opponent Andy Murray also won in straight sets but was made to work harder by world number 317 Yuki Bhambri before winning 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7/3).

Seventh seed Tomas Berdych also advanced without dropping a set against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, but 15th seed Tommy Robredo was forced to retire after just five games of his match with France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin due to a groin injury.

Published: Monday 19th January 2015 by The News Editor

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