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Rafael Nadal manages to get past tenacious qualifier to reach Australian Open third round

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning a match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann during their men's singles match on day three of the Australian Open. Photo: Martin Keep/AFP

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning a match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann during their men's singles match on day three of the Australian Open. Photo: Martin Keep/AFP

Published Jan 19, 2022

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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.

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"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.

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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.

Nadal's 2021 season ended prematurely in August because of his left foot injury before he contracted Covid-19 in December.

The Spanish great has played just 13 tournaments in the past two seasons.

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AFP

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