Australian Open: Nadal romps into third round

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MELBOURNE - Rafael Nadal announced his return to good health with a straight-set romp into the third round of the Australian Open as the world number one crushed American Ryan Sweeting 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 Thursday.

The top seed, who is bidding for four consecutive Grand Slam titles, put in only slightly over 90 minutes in racing to victory over the qualifier ranked 116th. Nadal’s breathtaking form confirmed that he is over the virus which affected him earlier in the month.

The Spaniard won his opening match Tuesday without losing a game and was all but untested by Sweeting in the second-round match-up.

“I did not know how he played, but I had heard of him,” said Nadal.

“I played a solid match with a few backhand mistakes.

“My serve has improved a lot since the first day.”

Nadal romped home with 36 winners and eight breaks of serve against an opponent clearly out of his depth as he played in only his eighth Grand Slam. Sweeting is just a year younger than Nadal, who has won seven majors.

Nadal’s victory was his 27th in Melbourne, where he won the 2009 title.

Qualifier Milos Raonic became the first Canadian to reach the third round of a major in 10 years as the 20-year-old hammered experienced Frenchman Michael Llodra 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Raonic put in 21 aces as he took the biggest step of his career, competing in only his second Grand Slam.

Women’s third seed Kim Clijsters had a quick win on court and a great laugh off it after advancing with ease against Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.

The 27-year-old mother-of-one got her own back against former player and television interviewer Todd Woodbridge when she revealed that she had been shown his text he sent to another player inquiring if the Belgian was pregnant again.

“What you actually said was that you thought I looked grumpy and my boobs were bigger,” a playful Clijsters said to Woodbridge on the television feed. “Well, that is my TV career over,” retorted the former men’s doubles star.

Clijsters then denied the rumour saying that when she does become pregnant again, her career will be done.

There was more disappointment for one-time number one Jelena Jankovic as the Serb seventh seed went down to China’s Peng Shuai 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. Since finishing 2008 on the top spot, Jankovic has only been to the second week of a Grand Slam once from nine events.

Israeli 10th seed Shahar Peer defeated Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-2, while 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, whose racquet snapped off at the grip during play in her previous match, kept it all together for a defeat of Croatian Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4.

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