Nadal advances in Australian Open play

Rafael Nadal cruised in his first competitive match of the year Monday at the Australian Open. Back soreness sidelined Nadal from a tune-up event in Spain.

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February 9, 2021 - 10:06 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Facing a break point late in the third set, Rafael Nadal sprinted to his left and hit a running forehand winner from way out wide.

A slow-motion fist pump was a very subdued celebration by his standards. The 20-time major champion wasn’t going to let the lingering back soreness that bothered him ahead of the Australian Open stop him from getting through the first round as soon as he possibly could.

Laslo Djere, ranked 56th, watched the winner land, held out both hands, and no doubt wondered what more he needed to do to win a point.

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