KEY POINTS

  • Rafa Nadal defeated Marcos Giron in the first round of AUS Open
  • Nadal won the game in straight sets
  • The former World No. 1 is aiming to win a record 21st major title

Rafael Nadal opened up on a "very challenging few months" after kickstarting the 2022 Australian Open with a win on Monday. 

Nadal defeated World No. 66 American Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena to progress to the second round. 

The Spaniard, who is chasing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, is coming on the back of winning the Melbourne Summer Set 1, which was his career 89th ATP title.

In the first round at the Australian Open on Monday, Nadal dropped just eight points on his first serve, notched up 34 winners (including seven aces) to Giron's 10 and saved both break points he faced. He didn’t seem troubled by his past foot injury, although he admitted to some enduring uncertainty.

"It’s been a very challenging few months tough moments with a lot of doubts – there still are doubts. But I am here and I can’t be happier to be back in Australia in this amazing stadium. You never know when you come back from injury, which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with, how things will be, so you have to take it day by day. You have to forgive yourself if things aren’t going the proper way," Nadal told ATP after his victory against Giron. 

The win over Giron marked the 70th win for Nadal at the Australian Open. 

With Roger Federer not participating at the Australian Open and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic being deported by the country after losing his visa case, Nadal has a great chance to claim several records by winning the calendar-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne. 

The 2009 Australian Open champion is aiming to become just the second man, after Djokovic, to win all the four major titles at least twice. While Nadal has won the French Open 14 times, Wimbledon twice and US Open four times, the former No. 1 player has managed to win the Australian Open only once. He reached the final four more times following the 2009 edition but ended on the losing side on all occasions. 

Nadal is also trying to become the third man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open after turning 35 after Federer and Ken Rosewall.

Rafael Nadal said the Australian Open would be a great tournament "with or without" Djokovic Rafael Nadal said the Australian Open would be a great tournament "with or without" Djokovic Photo: AFP / Mike FREY

The Spanish star will next face the winner of the match between Adelaide International 2 champion Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia and German Yannick Hanfmann.