MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal launched his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 trouncing of American Marcos Giron on Monday to reach the second round of the Australian Open.
With Djokovic sent packing by Australian authorities and Roger Federer absent, Nadal can snatch the men’s all-time Slam record outright by claiming the title at Melbourne Park.
The only former champion left in the draw, the Spanish great started superbly at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena, breaking world number 66 Giron five times for the match and thrashing 34 winners past the outclassed American.
Sixth seed Nadal will face the winner of wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis and qualifier Yannick Hanfmann for a place in the third round.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)