Melbourne, January 20:
World No 1 Rafael Nadal threw down the gauntlet with a devastating display of tennis at the Australian Open today as he joined Andy Murray and the Williams sisters in the second round.
Nadal showed he means business with a ruthless 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Belgian Christophe Rochus. Nadal reeled off eight games in a row before Rochus got on the scoreboard, with the Spaniard turning the screws again to win in 77 minutes. Also through was Murray, the fourth seed. The Scot barely broke a sweat against Romanian Andrei Pavel who retired with a back injury when Murray was leading 6-2, 3-1.
Second-seeded Serena Williams was equally comfortable in her 6-3, 6-2 mauling of China’s Meng Yuan. Matching her sister, sixth seed Venus hardly broke stride as she sauntered past Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.
Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva survived a gruelling test before grinding down Germany’s Kristina Barrois 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-1. Australian hope Lleyton Hewitt joined Polish ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska on the scrap heap after slumping in five sets to Chilean Fernando Gonzalez. Other players to progress included Amelie Mauresmo.
On the men’s side, fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year, looked ominous in his straight sets win, as did sixth seed and fellow Frenchman Giles Simon. Ninth seed James Blake overcame Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic.