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‘Improving’ Rafa Nadal in Round 3, along with Naomi Osaka

MELBOURNE, January 19

Rafa Nadal said his game is improving with every match since his return from a lengthy injury break after the Spaniard eased past Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-3 6-4 to reach the third round of the Australian Open today.

A second Australian Open title would not only break the three-way tie at the top of men’s tennis but also make Nadal just the second man after Novak Djokovic to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice since the sport became professional in 1968.

Osaka stays on track

Defending champion Naomi Osaka was pleased that she found a way out of a second-set blip to beat American Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4 and reach the third round, staying on course for a potential fourth-round clash with top-ranked Ash Barty. The Japanese 24-year-oldcould potentially meet Australian Barty in the Round of 16. Barty beat Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-1.

Meanwhile, India’s Rohan Bopanna and his French partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin were knocked out of the men’s doubles event. — Agencies

Day 3: highlights

Making racquet talk

Alexander Zverev shrugged off a rowdy centre court crowd to sail into the third round with an impressive 6-4 6-4 6-0 win over local journeyman John Millman.

Sakkari rolls on

Fifth seed Maria Sakkari made light work of China’s Zheng Qinwen, romping to a 6-1 6-4 win to set up a meeting with Veronika Kudermetova in the third round.

Krejcikova has it easy

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova continued her charge with a routine 6-2 6-3 win over China’s Wang Xiyu. Up next for the Czech is Latvian 26th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

BENCIC CRASHES OUT

Amanda Anisimova stunned Olympics champion Belinda Bencic to progress to the third round with a clinical 6-2 7-5 victory. Anisimova will play Osaka.

Berrettini battles

Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini overcame a minor hiccup in the second set to move into the third round with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over American Stefan Kozlov.

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