Rafael Nadal beats Mikhail Youzhny with style at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal serves in his first-round match against Mikhail Youzhny.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

Rafael Nadal didn’t give the impression he was lacking any confidence as he raced through the first round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny.

Coming back from a right wrist injury and an appendix operation that sidelined him late last season, and coming off a rare first-round loss in a tune-up event in Doha, the 14-time major winner said he had concerns about his fitness and form coming into the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

He didn’t show it, hitting 37 winners, breaking Youzhny twice in each set, holding his own serve comfortably and fending off the only break-point chance he faced.

"Last year, second half of the year had been tough mentally, tough physically for me," he said, adding that the loss to Michael Berrer in Doha earlier in the month didn’t help. "When that happens after a tough period of injuries you arrive here with doubts.

"This first match was tough mentally for me — hope this match will give me confidence for play well next round."

Nadal hasn’t won the Australian Open since 2009, but has reached the final in his last two trips to Melbourne Park, losing to Novak Djokovic in a 5-hour, 53-minute epic in 2012 and to Stan Wawrinka last year.