Nadal answers doubts, Ivanovic ousted at Australian Open

Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:33am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A relieved Rafa Nadal felt the confidence come flooding back in a first-round romp at the Australian Open on Monday after former world number one Ana Ivanovic crashed out on the opening day at Melbourne Park.

Sixth seed Andy Murray enjoyed a solid first win as the leading men marched into the second round, but world number five Ivanovic, upset 1-6 6-3 6-2 by Czech doubles specialist Lucie Hradecka, was one of five women's seeds to fall during a sun-drenched day session.

The upsets came earlier than expected and the intrigue was meant to occur on Rod Laver Arena, where third seed Nadal's comeback from illness and injury was expected to be given a thorough examination by Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny.

Within a handful of games, however, it was Youzhy plagued with doubts as his pink-clad Spanish opponent wasted little time easing into his grand slam groove before roaring to a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win in less than two hours.

"The second half of last year was tough mentally and physically," Nadal said in a courtside interview. "So it was very emotional to be back on court.

"This first match here was tough mentally for me. I hope this match will give me confidence as I play the next round."

Bidding for a maiden Australian Open title after three trips to the final, Murray's 6-3 6-4 7-6(3) win over Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri was not without some anxious moments, the Scot jarring his knee early in the second set and falling 4-1 behind in the third.

Murray yelled out "shocking movement!" when he lost his serve before composing himself to break back and seal the match in a one-sided tiebreak.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in their men's singles first round match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2015.    REUTERS/Issei Kato