Day-session dazzlers: Nadal, Pliskova, Thiem & Keys roll in Melbourne

Day-session dazzlers: Nadal, Pliskova, Thiem & Keys roll in Melbourne

The ATP's No. 1 dropped just five games to begin his Australian Open campaign Tuesday, while the WTA world No. 2 defeated Kristina Mladenovic.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal highlighted a group of Australian Open contenders who advanced with relative ease during the day session on Tuesday in Melbourne.

Nadal defeated Hugo Dellien, 6-2, 6-3, 6-0, to open his campaign for a first event trophy in 11 years. The 33-year-old had one blip in the second set when he dropped serve, but immediately recovered to regain control and ended the Bolivian’s debut after two hours and two minutes.

"I think the third set was a great set," Nadal said in press. "I think I played a very good level of tennis. The first two I played with a little bit more caution."

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A title run would see the Spaniard tie Roger Federer’s record of 20 major crowns and join Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only men to win every Grand Slam event twice. A year ago, Nadal was blitzed by rival Novak Djokovic in the championship match.

Fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who landed in Nadal’s quarter of the draw, dismissed Adrian Mannarino, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. Thiem took 13 of 17 net points to remain perfect against the Frenchman, improving to 8-0. Last season, Thiem won a co-leading five titles on the ATP tour and won his biggest title to date at Indian Wells.

"I'm very happy that I'm through to the second round. And as we could see in the last two slams, every victory is hard work," commented Thiem.

On the women’s side, second-ranked Karolina Pliskova maintained her hot 2020 start by posting a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic. The Czech, coming off a successful title defense in Brisbane, erased six of the seven break points she faced.

“I was little nervous in the beginning, so I think could be much worse,” said Pliskova. “Of course, the match was not easy. So I think it was a good test for a first round.”

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Last year at Melbourne Park, Pliskova saved four match points to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.

Madison Keys, who finished runner-up to Pliskova in Brisbane, also began confidently. The No. 10 seed needed just 57 minutes to eliminate Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 6-3. Keys increased her undefeated record over the Russian to 7-0 in winning her 22nd consecutive major opener. Kasatkina contributed to the one-sided scoreline, hitting just five winners to 20 unforced errors—nine being double faults.