January 22, 2020 / 9:48 AM / 2 months ago

Red-hot Nadal faces Delbonis, says majors tally not a focus

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - First Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 21, 2020 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the match against Bolivia's Hugo Dellien REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal’s immediate focus may not be on matching great rival Roger Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slam titles, but the Spanish world number one would go one step closer at the Australian Open on Thursday with a win over Federico Delbonis.

The French and U.S. Open champion opened his campaign Down Under with a 6-2 6-3 6-0 demolition of Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien and will again be the overwhelming favorite in his second-round match. Argentine Delbonis has not taken a set off 33-year-old Nadal in three previous meetings.

“If I am able to reach my highest level, that’s the thing that I have to worry about,” Nadal told reporters on Tuesday. “So, I don’t care about 20 or 15 or 16 (majors). I just care about trying to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career.”

Local favorite Nick Kyrgios resumes his quest for a maiden Grand Slam against French veteran Gilles Simon, while fourth seed Daniil Medvedev squares off against Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez and 15th seed Stan Wawrinka faces Andreas Seppi of Italy.

Women’s fourth seed and two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep, who overcame a wrist injury scare to beat American Jennifer Brady 7-6(5) 6-1, will hope her second round clash against British qualifier Harriet Dart will be less tense.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza hope she is fully recovered from a virus before she meets unseeded Australian Ajla Tomljanovic while Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova takes on Laura Siegemund of Germany.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet

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