MELBOURNE, Australia – Rafael Nadal will step up his bid for a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title when he faces Argentina’s Federico Delbonis at the Australian Open on Thursday, January 23.
The Spaniard can only count one Melbourne title among his 19 Majors but he will be confident of reaching the third round at least after winning all 3 previous meetings with Delbonis.
Swiss great Roger Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slam tournaments, and eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic are already through after straightforward wins.
Nadal has dropped only 10 games to 76th-ranked Delbonis in their previous meetings but he’s not immune to Grand Slam shocks, losing 4 times to players ranked 100 or lower.
Victory in Melbourne would make Nadal the first man in the Open era – and only the third in history – to win all 4 Major titles twice, after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.
Ruthless Swiss master Federer said, though, he had “plenty left in the tank” as he kept intact his 20-year record of reaching at least the third round of the Australian Open after crushing Serb Filip Krajinovic on Wednesday.
The six-time champion first played at Melbourne Park in 2000 and has gone on to make the semifinals or better on 14 occasions, with no exits before round 3.
The 38-year-old 3rd seed dominated the 41st-ranked Krajinovic 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena, stretching his record over him to 4-0.
Federer, who is bidding for a seventh title to match Djokovic’s record, and his first since 2018, came into the tournament without playing a warm-up event but has nevertheless looked ominous.
“Very happy, been a great start to the season,” he said as he moved a step closer to a 21st Grand Slam title. “I feel really relaxed on court. I’ve trained hard and you always hope it pays off.”
Asked if he felt sorry for Krajinovic, he replied: “I do feel a bit sorry, but you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Over his two matches so far Federer has dropped just 13 games, and admitted he preferred easy early encounters rather than tough battles to preserve energy.
“I prefer this much more than overcooked. As easy as it looks, there’s always the effort, trying to extend the lead,” he said.
“Of course, it’s not quite the same stress level if you’re down a set or a break or two sets, whatever it may be. I prefer it this way because you have always extra left in the tank if you need it.”
He faces a tougher assignment next against Australian John Millman, who beat him in 4 tough sets at the 2018 US Open.
“He’s fit like a fiddle. I’ve lost to him in the past… he’s from this country so naturally also it’s going to be different intensity. I think this is going to be a good test for me.” – Rappler.com