Nadal through as five seeds fall in Australian Open first round
Rafael Nadal began his quest for a second Australian Open title in style, but there were a number of seeded casualties in the men's singles first round on Monday.
World number one Nadal returned to Rod Laver Arena for the first time since losing an epic final to Roger Federer 12 months ago, and the 2009 champion dominantly dispatched of Victor Estrella Burgos.
Grigor Dimitrov and Jo Wilfried-Tsonga also made serene progress, while 17th seed Nick Kyrgios was one of three male Australians to progress to the next stage in front of a home crowd.
It was not a day to remember for Jack Sock (8) or fellow American John Isner (16), who were among the seeds to bite the dust on day one.
Kevin Anderson (11) also bade an early farewell as Kyle Edmund dumped the South African out with a spirited four-hour showing.
NADAL CRUISES THROUGH
There may have been concerns about Nadal's sore knee and lack of preparation prior to the tournament, but he swiftly put them to bed with a stunning display on Rod Laver Arena.
Burgos was no match for the world number one, Nadal taking his game apart with a string of trademark whipped forehands – two particularly outrageous ones coming in the third set.
“I love this sport. I love tennis. I love the competition. I know one day that I will not have the opportunity to play in this arena [Rod Laver Arena] so I want to enjoy every moment.”— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 15, 2018
- @RafaelNadal #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/uZVVGu9fV4
Nadal only needed 94 minutes to progress 6-1 6-1 6-1 and he looks in fine fettle for a tilt at a second Australian Open title – the Spaniard having lost in the final three times since winning his only Melbourne crown in 2009.
EDMUND STUNS ANDERSON, AMERICANS CRASH OUT
One of the biggest shocks on the opening day came when 11th seed Anderson - a finalist at the US Open last year - fell to a five-set defeat to Edmund, the sole British player in the men's singles draw.
Edmund showed remarkable defiance to see off the South African 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4, twice trailing by a set and then recovering from a 2-0 deficit in the final set.
Anderson was not the only seeded player to be stunned in the first round, however, as both Sock (8) and Isner (16) crashed out on a miserable day for Americans in both the men's and women's singles.
Sock was beaten inside four sets - 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-3 by Yuichi Sugita - and Isner was also beaten in four, going down 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3 to Aussie Matthew Ebden.
DIMITROV, TSONGA AND KYRGIOS TRIUMPH
Third seed Dimitrov built on his ATP Finals success last year, beating Dennis Novak 6-3 6-2 6-1, and Tsonga joined him in the next round with a win over Kevin King.
Kyrgios made light work of Rogerio Dutra Silva in a straight-sets 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory, while Marin Cilic (6) and Pablo Carreno Busta (10) are also through.
Elsewhere, Philipp Kohlschreiber (27) fell at the first hurdle in a topsy-turvy 6-3 2-6 6-0 1-6 6-2 reverse to Yoshihito Nishioka, and Lucas Pouille (18) lost 6-4 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (8-6) to Ruben Bemelmans.
Meanwhile, David Ferrer, although unseeded, will be another notable absence in the second round as Andrey Rublev was a 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 winner to knock out the veteran.
"WHERE IS THAT QUESTION COMING FROM"
Nick Kyrgios's post-match media conference started as you would expect with questions about his solid start to the grand slam, however some probing left him bemused.
After saying in his on-court interview he was happy to have girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic with him at the event one journalist asked if she gave him support from the player's box.
However, they had not done their research as Kyrgios responded with: "I don't think she was there."
It got worse for the press corps when Kyrgios was quizzed about his apparent friendship with NFL star Colin Kaepernick.
"I don't think I've ever spoken a word to him in my life," said the Australian number one. "I mean, where is that question coming from? We're at the Australian Open, man. Are we done?"