Australian Open 2017: Determined Nadal safely through to the 2nd Round
Nadal established his dominance in the match early on and looks to be in good form going into Round 2.
9th seed Rafael Nadal got his Aussie Open campaign off to an ideal start, beating former top 20 player, Florian Mayer, 6-3 6-4 6-4 in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Nadal did not face even a single break point in the entire match, & racked up impressive numbers on his serve. Nadal won 77% points on his first serve, and 83% points on his second serve.
This was by no means an easy match for Rafa, as Florian had beaten Rafa in their only previous meeting on hard courts, at the 2011 Shanghai Masters. Mayer is a very unorthodox player, who can catch his opponents off-guard with his whippy strokes. He's certainly a player one would like to avoid in the opening rounds of Grand Slams.
Let us take a look at the set-wise summary of the match -
Serving ahead, Rafa produced a couple of comfortable holds to go up 2-1. On Mayer's next service game, Rafa produced 3 of his trademark forehand down the line winners to secure an early break. With the amount of bite on Rafa's forehand, Mayer found himself being pushed too far behind the baseline, resulting in a quick 4-1 lead for the Spaniard.
At 4-2, Nadal serving, Mayer managed to create a 0-30 lead for himself, but Rafa smartly worked his way out of trouble, drawing errors out of the Mayer backhand. Rafa had 4 set points on Mayer's subsequent service game to seal the set 6-2, but Mayer saved all of them with big first serves. Rafa sealed the set on the fifth set point, with a second serve ace.
The second set turned out to be a much tighter affair, with none of the players being able to break serve until 4-4. Nadal did have a break point opportunity that he set up for himself with his famous "banana shot" at 2-2, but Mayer saved it with a brilliant serve-volley point.
At 4-4, Nadal played the point of the match, setting up a break point for himself. Mayer had Rafa running from side to side, but Nadal quickly turned defense into offense, hitting a forehand down the line winner on the dead run. Rafa then went on to break Mayer and followed it up with a clinical love hold to bag the second set 6-4.
The 3rd set saw both the players holding serves fairly quickly. At 2-2, Rafa had a slight look at Mayer's serve at 15-30, but Mayer managed to hold on. Rafa dug himself into a potential hole at 2-3 15-30, but some aggressive tennis by him, that included a sumptuous drop volley winner, bailed him out of trouble.
At the business end of the set at 4-4, Rafa upped the intensity, as one would expect champions of his stature to do. Mayer also did his bit, serving his first double fault of the match at a very wrong time. This enabled Rafa to break Mayer's serve and have himself an opportunity to serve for the match. Rafa ensured that there were no hiccups, and sealed himself a place in the second round with a neat service game.
Nadal will face 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the 2nd round.