Rafael Nadal has progressed to the third round of the Australian Open after a sublime straight-set victory over Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday. On the other hand, third-seed Grigor Dimitrov was tested to the limit but eventually overcame the challenge of American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald in 5 sets.
Last year’s Australian Open runners-up, Nadal put up a powerful performance conceding only 10 unforced errors and hitting an incredible 40 winners to book a place in the round of 32. However, Mayer brought all his energy in the third set and broke the serve for the only time in the match when Nadal was serving out to win and thereby forcing the set into a tiebreaker. However, the Spaniard reeled off a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over the 52nd-ranked Argentine at the Rod Laver Arena to fix the date with Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 28th seed Damir Dzumhur in the third round.
“It was an important victory for me. [Mayer is] always a tough opponent. I had to hit some great shots in the tie-break. I’m happy to be in the third round after a while without being in competition,” Nadal told during the on-court interview.
In another match, Grigor Dimitrov survived a huge scare before defeating qualifier McDonald 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6. The Bulgarian found himself in serious danger against McDonald, who had never previously faced a player ranked higher than No. 69 in the ATP rankings. McDonald attacked Dimitrov’s backhand and restricted him from hitting more than five winners and also reduced Dimitrov's second service points to just 28% as the Bulgarian committed nine double faults.
"He deserves a lot of credit. He played an unbelievable game. I had to fight so much and in the end, I think my experience helped me. I'm so happy with the result and the fight," said Dimitrov.
Sixth-seed Marin Cilic also advanced to the third round with straight sets win over Portugal’s 70th-ranked Joao Sousa 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 and will next play American Ryan Harrison who knocked out Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the first round. The Croatian star, who reached his second Grand Slam final last year at Wimbledon, thoroughly took charge of the match with his serve and dropped only five service points. Sousa never saw a break point in the entire match.
In the women’s singles, World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki fought hard against World No. 119 Jana Fett to move into the third round of the tournament. After being 5-1 down in the third set, Wozniacki pulled off the improbable comeback to turn it around and edge through 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 after a gruelling two hours and 30 minutes.