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Australian Open 2017: Rafael Nadal crushes Marcos Baghdatis to enter the third round

The talented 19-year-old Alexander Zverev awaits Rafa in the next round.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal sails through

A year after his shocking first round defeat, ninth seed Rafael Nadal put up an impressive performance to beat the 2006 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the second round at the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne on Thursday. The 2009 champion has a big test up next as he faces the very talented 19-year-old Alexander Zverev, who is seeded 24th this time.

Earlier in the day, the year’s first Major witnessed a huge upset when the 117th ranked Denis Istomin sent the six-time champion Novak Djokovic packing in the second round.

Dominant performance from Rafa

This match between a former champion and a former runner-up remained competitive only for the first few games of the match after which Rafa totally took control. The 2006 runner-up Baghdatis put early pressure on Nadal in a marathon service game and even had a break point but the 2009 winner remained firm for a 2-1 lead.

The ninth seed was quick to pounce on Baghdatis’s very next service game. Using his fiery forehands, the Spaniard forced the World No. 36 into errors and went up 3-1.

Rafa struck again in the sixth game to go a double break up. It was only in the seventh game that the Cypriot could show some of the flashes that took him to the final at Melbourne Park 11 years ago.

By incorporating some of his deft touches at the net, he smartly disrupted Nadal’s rhythm and secured his first break of the match. His joy was, however, short-lived as the southpaw refused to make the same mistakes again and wrapped up the opener, 6-3.

From then, it was pretty much downhill for the man who stole the show at this very venue in 2006. He failed to do anything against the player to whom he has lost 8 out of 9 times.

Baghdatis did not even earn a single break point in the second set whereas the former World No. 1 made in-roads into his service games thrice. Nadal cruised to 4-0 before the Cypriot could even get on the board and it was just a matter of time before he grabbed the second set, 6-1.

With two sets in the bag, there was no let-up in Rafa’s intensity in the third set. However, his inability to convert break points kept the set close in the initial stages.

Nadal finally had the breakthrough in the sixth game on a Baghdatis double fault that helped him surge to 4-2. Baghdatis then found an extra spurt of energy while facing two match points. Pulling Nadal away from the court with some brilliant shotmaking, he saved them both.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion needed just another match point to do the job and he converted it in style with his bread-and-butter inside-out forehand winner.

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