Nadal thwarts German foe to reach Round 3 of Australian Open

Agence France-Presse
Nadal thwarts German foe to reach Round 3 of Australian Open
Spain's Rafael Nadal (right) shakes hands with Germany's Yannick Hanfmann after their men's singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2022.
Martin Keep / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Rafael Nadal needed five match points before putting away tenacious German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann at the Australian Open on Wednesday and continue his march toward a record 21st Grand Slam title.

The Spanish World No. 5 was always in command in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win in 2 hours and 42 minutes in hot conditions at the Rod Laver Arena to stride into Round 3.

"He is a player with big shots, good serve and he has very high potential," Nadal said of the 126th-ranked Hanfmann, who put up more of a fight than the score suggested.

Next up for Nadal is either Russian 28th seed Karen Khachanov or Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Nadal, with two service breaks, took the opening set after 48 minutes with a backhand winner to the top corner.

The meticulous Spaniard kept moving Hanfmann around the court and claimed another service break with a forehand winner for 5-3 and served it out for a two-set lead.

Another early service break had Nadal on the way in the third set but he needed five match points to close it out.

His 5-0 record in 2022 is a strong start after an injury-disrupted last year, but he is yet to face a top-60 player in the new year.

Nadal, the only Australian Open champion in the men's draw after nine-time winner Novak Djokovic's deportation on the eve of the tournament, is vying with Djokovic and Roger Federer to reach a men's record 21st Slam crown.

Nadal's 2021 season ended prematurely in August because of his left foot injury before he contracted Covid-19 in December.

The Spanish great has played just 13 tournaments in the past two seasons.




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