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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Paul Myers

Australian Open top seeds Nadal and Swiatek reach second round

Tennis: World number one Iga Swiatek moved into the second round at the 2023 Australian Open where she is seeking a first title. AP - Aaron Favila

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek, the top seeds in the respective men's and women's draws at the Australian Open, moved into the second round on Monday after overcoming tricky opponents.

Nadal, the defending champion, needed just over three and a half hours to dispatch the 21-year-old Briton Jack Draper 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

After claiming the third set, Nadal lost his opening service game at the start of the fourth but broke back immediately and eventually took a 2-1 lead. The three games took 27 minutes.

They effort compounded Draper's physical decline. Suffering from cramps, he was unable to move fluently and his challenge faded away.

"It was a real honour to play against someone I've idolised growing up," Draper said. "To go toe-to-toe with him on a big court like that is special.

"I think I can take away the fact that my tennis is getting closer and closer and physically I'll be first to say I'm still a work in progress."

Swiatek, who is seeking a first crown in Australia, was inconsistent during her match against the unseeded German Jule Niemeier who served for the second set at 5-4 up.

But the 23-year-old fluffed her lines and allowed Swiatek to level at 5-5.

And the world number one raced through the next two games to claim the tie 6-4, 7-5 and set up a second round clash against María Camila Osorio Serrano from Colombia.

Elsewhere in the women's draw, Victoria Azarenka claimed the battle of former champions.

The 33-year-old from Belarus, who won in 2012 and 2013, saw off the 2020 champion Sofia Kenin 6-4, 7-6.

Frenchmen down

In the men's competition, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas saved four set points in the third set before sealing a straight sets victory over the unseeded Frenchman Quentin Halys.

Other French casualties in the men's draw included Arthur Rinderknech, Gregoire Barrere and Luca Van Assche but Corentin Moutet came through in five sets against Yibing Wu from China and Constant Lestienne advanced in straight sets against Thiago Monteiro from Brazil.

Sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime required four hours to shake off his fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

Auger-Aliassime was ragged in the first set and squandered an early break in the second before eventually winning it in a tiebreak.

The 22-year-old, who had gone out in the first round at the 2022 US Open and 2022 Wimbledon, maintained his composure to notch up the third and fourth sets 7-6 and 6-3 respectively.

"We recently had amazing memories together, winning the Davis Cup just two months ago, so it's always tough to play a good friend," said Auger-Aliassime.

"Vasek came out firing, played really well. On my part, it was a bit of a struggle. It's a first round It happens," he added. "I'm just happy I was able to get back into the match."

He will next take on Alex Molcan who dispatched the 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets.

Last year's beaten finalist Daniil Medvedev enjoyed a much more serene encounter.

The Russian waltzed past the American Marcus Giron 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 in 96 minutes.

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