Tennis - Nadal
Rafael Nadal, an overwhelming favourite for the men's title in the absence of Novak Djokovic, on route to his second round win over German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann on Wednesday. Image Credit: Reuters

Melbourne: Rafael Nadal needed five match-points before putting away tenacious German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann at the Australian Open on Wednesday and continue his march towards a record 21st Grand Slam title.

The Spanish world number five was always in command in a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win in 2hr 42 min in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena to stride into round three.

“He is a player with big shots, good serve and he has very high potential,” Nadal said of the 126th-ranked Hanfmann, who put up more of a fight than the score suggested.

Next up for Nadal is either Russian 28th seed Karen Khachanov or Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Nadal, with two service breaks, took the opening set after 48 minutes with a backhand winner to the top corner.


The meticulous Spaniard kept moving Hanfmann around the court and claimed another service break with a forehand winner for 5-3 and served it out for a two-sets lead.

Another early service break had Nadal on the way in the third set but he needed five match points to close it out.

His 5-0 record in 2022 is a strong start after an injury-disrupted last year, but he is yet to face a top-60 player in the new year.

Nadal, the only Australian Open champion in the men’s draw after nine-time winner Novak Djokovic’s deportation on the eve of the tournament, is vying with Djokovic and Roger Federer to reach a men’s record 21st Slam crown.

Women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty stayed on course for a potential fourth-round showdown with Naomi Osaka with a second flawless display earlier.

Tennis-Ash Barty
World No.1 Ash Barty has not dropped her serve for 48 straight games through five matches this year. Image Credit: AFP

Barty, chasing a first title at her home Grand Slam, barely broke sweat as she powered past Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-1 in just 52 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

The ultra-consistent Barty, who won a warm-up tournament in Adelaide, hasn’t dropped her serve for 48 straight games over five matches this year.

“I felt like we had a good preparation in Adelaide. We played well, played throughout tough matches. (My coach) Craig Tyzzer is the master,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion.

“I feel like our whole team works extremely well together. We’re enjoying our tennis and being able to produce some pretty good stuff.”

Barty, who won Wimbledon last year, is potentially one win away from a last-16 showdown with defending champion Osaka, who plays American Madison Brengle in Wednesday’s night session. However, Barty will have a much tougher task in the third round on Friday against seasoned Italian 30th seed Camila Giorgi, who beat Czech Tereza Martincova 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).

“She is an incredible ball striker and one of the most athletic girls out there,” said Barty of Giorgi.

In-form eighth seed Paula Badosa, who won the Sydney warm-up tournament, also powered through against an Italian qualifier, Martina Trevisan, 6-0, 6-3.

Men’s third seed Alexander Zverev is looking to follow his Olympic gold in Tokyo last year with a first Grand Slam title. He safely came through a tricky late-night first-round clash against fellow German Daniel Altmaier despite not being at his best.