Martina Navratilova

Rafael Nadal cruised past qualifier Yannick Hanfmann to reach the third round of the Australian Open Wednesday.

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Sixth seed Nadal defeated Germany’s Hanfmann 6-2 6-3 6-4 in his bid for a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title.Hanfmann saved four match points, two of which came on the Spaniard’s serve before the 2009 champion won on Rod Laver Arena.

Alexander Zverev, who defeated Australia’s John Millman in straight sets, also advanced to the third round.

Despite a strong showing from the Australian, the German third seed won 6-4 6-4 6-0 to set up a match with Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot, who defeated wildcard Aleksandar Vukic 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

“I feel good, I won, and I could really feel you guys had been in lockdown for two years,” Zverev said.

“It was an incredible atmosphere, and hopefully it will continue and become even louder for the next matches.”

The 24-year-old admits that he expected to be the villain when facing a home favorite, but he is enjoying having fans in Melbourne.

“I’m expecting everyone to despise me after the game,” he added.

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“In the two years since Covid’s inception, I’ve always said that sport requires an atmosphere and people. Whether you are for or against me, I enjoy the noise, being on the court, and the emotion that the spectators bring.”

Nadal will take on the 28th seed. Karen Khachanov is up next after defeating France’s Benjamin Bonzi 6-4, 6-0, 7-5.

The only former champion still in the men’s draw is Rafael Nadal, a five-time finalist in Melbourne.


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