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Nadal through at Australian Open, Sharapova departs early

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-22 09:50

MELBOURNE - Rafael Nadal breezed through the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday, while former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova made an early exit, raising questions over her professional future.

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during the match against Bolivia's Hugo Dellien during the first round at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia January 21, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Matches started early on the outdoor courts to make up for time lost due to rain the day before, and Nadal wasted no time dispatching Bolivia's Hugo Dellien 6-2, 6-3, 6-0, with the Spaniard claiming the first five games in a row, as well as the final seven.

"I just try to do the things that I know that I can do. Just try to put myself in rhythm. That was my goal at the beginning of the match," Nadal said.

"Then, of course, with an advantage on the score, I just tried to play the way that I really believe I need to play if I want to have a positive result here."

Meanwhile, Sharapova, who entered the tournament as a wildcard, lost her match against Croatia's Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4.

Croatia's Donna Vekic shakes hands with Russia's Maria Sharapova after winning the match. [Photo/Agencies]

This is the third time in a row that Sharapova has exited a major in the first round, and a starkly different result to the 2008 Australian Open, when a young Sharapova won the competition without dropping a single set.

After the game, the former champion suggested to reporters that injury had played a role in her defeat, and would not be drawn on questions over her future in the game.

"You know, I can speak about my struggles and the things that I've gone through with my shoulder, but it's not really in my character to," she said.

Russian fans were not left disappointed for long, however, as men's fourth seed Daniil Medvedev progressed to round two after a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Frances Tiafoe of the United States.

Earlier in the day, crowds had flocked to see two of Nadal's countrymen fight it out. Picking up where rain interrupted them the day before, Roberto Bautista Agut beat Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

As well as bringing beautiful weather, day two also brought good fortune to local favorites, with big wins for Australians Nick Kyrgios, John Millman and Alex Bolt, as well as newcomer Marc Polmans.

Polmans survived a four-set epic against the vastly more experienced Mikhail Kukushkin to prevail 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (8-10), 6-4, claiming his first ever win at a major event.

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