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Nadal and Federer smile in Australia, Murray says goodbye with epic

Nadal and Federer smile in Australia, Murray says goodbye with epic

Rafael Nadal (N.2) and Roger Federer (N.3) won with authority at the start of the Australian Open, a day marked by the emotional farewell to Andy Murray, who in his last match in Melbourne came back and led to the fifth set to Roberto Bautista.

After four months without competing due to physical problems, Nadal resolved the first round with authority; 6-4, 6-3 and 7-5 against local James Duckworth.

The Spaniard, who left the Brisbane tournament in early January due to a slight strain on his left thigh, seemed unaffected on the move. In the second round, Australian Matthew Ebden (48th) will be measured.

“It’s not easy to come back after so many months, especially against a player who was very aggressive at every point,” said the Mallorcan, champion of the Australian Open in 2009.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, 32, had not appeared on the circuit since he dropped out in the semifinals of the US Open in early September with a sore right knee.

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In addition to winning, Nadal showed his good humor by ‘pointing out’ in the press room a journalist who had fallen asleep during his appearance. “It must not be very interesting today,” he joked, to the laughter of the journalists and the sympathetic reaction of the person involved.

– ‘Excellent way to end’ –

Hours later Federer fulfilled (6-3, 6-4 and 6-4) against the Uzbek Denis Istomin (99th), in less than two hours.

“It really is incredible that I am the double champion here, at my age, it is a dream challenge,” said the 37-year-old Swiss legend.

But the man of the day was Murray, who stretched to five sets against Bautista; 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (4/7) and 6-2, in which it was his last match at the Australian Open, after he announced his retired throughout the season due to hip problems.

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The public, with Murray’s mother and his brother Jamie – a doubles specialist – in the stands, encouraged the victory of the Briton, who said goodbye with a spectacular ovation to a tournament that he failed to win but in which he was a finalist five times .

«It was incredible, thank you all very much for coming tonight. Honestly, I really liked playing here all these years, if it was my last game, it was a great way to finish. I gave everything, but it was not enough, “he said with the audience standing.

Among the Spaniards, Feliciano López, 37, extended the record for Grand Slams tournaments played consecutively with 68, although he did so with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/0) loss to Australian Jordan Thompson and 6-3.

– Kerber, Wozniacki and Sharapova pass –

In the women’s category, the German Angelique Kerber, second favorite, and the Russian Maria Sharapova (N.30) entered on the right foot by beating respectively the Slovenian Polona Hercog (6-2 and 6-2) and the British Harriet Dart (6- 0 and 6-0).

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Sharapova, a 2008 Melbourne Park winner and who has failed to impress at a Grand Slam since returning to competition in 2017 after being suspended for doping, demonstrated her intentions with a landslide victory over a Dart, which ended the match in tears.

The Russian star, who is contesting her 15th Australian Open, in which she was a finalist three times, said she was glad she had competed so easily while dealing with her injuries.

“It was a good test for my leg and my shoulder,” he said. «I still have a few days of pain. But I think I did everything right to get through that game, “he added.

Neither did the defending champion, the Danish Caroline Wozniacki, third world player, offer cracks, who beat the Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck (52nd) 6-3, 6-4. AFP

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