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Australian Open: Nadal through to third round

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal hits a return against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis during their men’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 23, 2020. William WEST / AFP

Rafael Nadal defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 6/3; 7/6 (4); 6/1 to join Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the third round. In a battle of southpaws in Road Laver Arena, the Argentinean saved 18 break points and conceded only three in the whole match.

In the opening game of the match, Nadal lost the first point on serve but the second was returned wide. After the routine hold, Delbonis faced seven break points before taking the 15-minute long game on his second advantage. Nadal eventually got a service break in the sixth game and proceeded to win set 6/3.

Delbonis held his serve to lead 1-0 in the second set and was also ahead 3-2. Nadal struggled in the sixth game but reached game point 40-30 with a deft flying backhand volley. A service return error by Delbonis sealed the game. Delbonis was down 15-40 but clawed his way to deuce and held on a missed service return. Nadal took the eighth game with an ace at game point.

Delbonis held serve to take the ninth game but Nadal hit a volley winner before a service return error by Delbonis led to 5 games apiece. Delbonis saved his ninth service break of the second set with an ace and took the eleventh game. Serving to stay in the set, Nadal missed an easy volley for 0-15 but fought back to holed. In the tie break, Delbonis lost a service point for 1-3 Nadal stretched the lead to 4-2 at changeover. Nadal extended the lead with an ace and after Delbonis took his next two service points, Nadal held to win the tie break 7 points to 4.

Nadal secured a service break to lead 3-1 and promptly stretched the gap to 4-1.There was a moment of drama as Delbonis served wide and Nadal’s return hit a ball girl. The two players moved to check the girl and Nadal kissed her on the cheek. On resumption of play, Delbonis lost his serve. Serving or the match, Nadal opened with an ace. A drop volley gave him three match points at 40-0. However, he missed an easy volley drive, and the error elicited a smile from him. On the next opportunity, Delbonis hit a service return wide.

Nadal later described the ball-girl incident as ‘the most scary moment for me on a tennis court, because it hit her on the head.” Asked about the top three and their dominance over the years, he said it has been his pleasure to have been part of the experience.


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