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Awesome Nadal cruises past Rochus

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January-1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, BBC One & Two (including all Andy Murray matches), Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)


Rafael Nadal
Nadal was on another level to Rochus

Top men's seed Rafael Nadal set the standard at the Australian Open with a devastating 6-0 6-2 6-2 first-round win over Belgium's Christophe Rochus.

The Spaniard took just 19 minutes to take the opening set and when Rochus did win a game, in the ninth, it was met with a huge cheer in the arena.

The Belgian improved but Nadal powered to victory in one hour and 17 minutes.

Home favourite Lleyton Hewitt bowed out after a 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3 defeat to number 13 seed Fernando Gonzalez.

The Australian converted his first break point for the opening set before Gonzalez hit back to win the next two.

606: DEBATE

Hewitt dominated the fourth but seemed to drop his intensity and Gonzalez finished by serving out to love.

Nadal, who was rarely troubled en route to victory over Rochus, dismissed any concerns about his knee problems.

"I'm just trying to improve and be humble because every match is different," he told the crowd.

"I'm very happy because I'm over the injury and at one of the greatest tournaments in the world."

He added that it was not intention to send a warning out to his rivals following his easy win.

"I'm not thinking about that, I'm just trying to make sure I play well myself," said the current Wimbledon champion.

"Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic) are in the other half of the draw. I'll only play them in the semis and final.

"I just have to worry about this half of the draw and my next match."

Meanwhile, French seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet all progressed.

Fifth seed Tsonga, last year's runner-up, had been a doubt before the tournament with a back injury but was in scintillating form as he swept past Juan Monaco 6-4 6-4 6-0.

Sixth seed Simon advanced with a 6-4 6-1 6-1 win against Pablo Andujar, 12th seed Monfils ousted Martin Vassallo Arguello 6-1 6-3 7-5, and 24th seed Gasquet beat Diego Junqueira 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-4.

When you haven't had the matches, haven't played five sets for quite a while, you're always going to be fighting it a little bit

Lleyton Hewitt

There was little to choose between the pair in the first two sets but Gasquet took one of six break points to win the third.

The Frenchman saw a 4-2 lead eroded in the fourth set but then broke at 4-4 before serving out the match.

Next up for Gasquet is Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, who overcame Vince Spadea 6-2 7-5 6-4.

Meanwhile, ninth seed James Blake of the United States booked his passage into the next round with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory over Canada's Frank Dancevic.

"You can't get a much more exciting three-setter," Blake said.

"It was a little too exciting but he played some great tennis.

Gonzalez now plays either Guillermo Canas or Dieter Kindlmann and if both he and Gasquet win their second-round matches they will meet in the third round.

The Chilean produced some scintillating groundstrokes against 2005 runner-up Hewitt but he required treatment for cramp during the final set and appeared exhausted by the end.

Hewitt said he paid the penalty for a lack of match practice following hip problems last year.

"I'll probably look back at it in a couple of days' time, look at where I could have improved and whatever," said Hewitt.

"But in hindsight, when you haven't had the matches, haven't played five sets for quite a while, you're always going to be fighting it a little bit.

"In terms of that then, I think it's a good springboard for the rest of the year. I would have still liked to have gone a bit further in the tournament."

Simon's comprehensive triumph over Andujar sets up a meeting with Chris Guccione after the Australian swept past Nicolas Devilder in straight sets.

Latvia's Ernests Gulbis has been tipped to go far this fortnight and he impressed with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 win against Albert Montanes of Spain.



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see also
Murray through as Pavel retires
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Williams sisters make solid start
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Baltacha powers past Groenefeld
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Aussie Open day two photos
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Order of play
19 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
07 Jan 09 |  Tennis


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