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Ruthless Nadal mangles Mayer to negotiate first hurdle

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 17/1/17 Spain's Rafael Nadal jumps as he hits a shot during his Men's singles first round match against Germany's Florian Mayer. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - 17/1/17 Spain's Rafael Nadal jumps as he hits a shot during his Men's singles first round match against Germany's Florian Mayer. REUTERS/Jason Reed

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal easily avoided the embarrassment of a back-to-back first round exits at the Australian Open on Tuesday, ramping up his serve and rattling off 39 winners to beat Florian Mayer 6-3 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2009 champion, seeded ninth after a disappointing injury-disrupted 2016 season, grasped his chances ruthlessly to overcome the German in a little over two hours in the brutal afternoon heat at Melbourne Park.

A single break in each of the first two sets followed by some dominant serving was enough to give him a comfortable lead going into the third, which the Spaniard wrapped up with a 25th sizzling forehand winner.

The 14-times grand slam champion, who was watched by new coach Carlos Moya, moves on to a second round clash with Cyprus's former Melbourne Park finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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