22 Jan 2015

Rafa stumbles into third round

11:55 am on 22 January 2015

An ailing Rafa Nadal had to dig deep into his vast reservoir of grit to stave off American qualifier Tim Smyczek and stagger into the third round of the Australian Open on a day of great escapes.

Rafael Nadal at the 2015 Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal at the 2015 Australian Open. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Nadal says he felt ill from the end of the first set and had to drag his body around Rod Laver Arena for four hours before beating the American in five sets.

Nadal's coach and uncle Toni Nadal revealed his nephew had been bitten below the eye by a mosquito in the run up to the match, adding further intrigue to a day of high drama at Melbourne Park.

Women's second seed Maria Sharapova fought back from 4-1 down in the deciding set and saved two match points before beating fellow Russian Alexandra Panova, a 150th-ranked qualifier playing the match of her life.

Men's second seed Roger Federer was also forced to scrap in the following match on centre court, after being thrown by a phantom pain on the little finger of his racquet hand during his four set win over 48th-ranked Italian Simone Bolelli.

Federer got medical treatment for what he thought was a sting on his thumb.

Andy Murray's second outing on the Margaret Court Arena was far more serene as the sixth seed trounced Marinko Matosevic in straight sets to retreat to the cool of the shade after 102 impressive minutes.

Canadian sensation Eugenie Bouchard, a semi-finalist on her Melbourne Park debut last year, continued her love affair with the blue hard courts, despatching Kiki Bertens in straight sets in 54 minutes.

Seventh seed Tomas Berdych also roared forward with a straight sets demolition of Austrian veteran Juergen Melzer.

Third seed Simona Halep, highly fancied to win her maiden grand slam title after a breakthrough 2014, capped the evening session by thrashing Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2 6-2.

Meanwhile Marina Erakovic's Australian Open is over after she lost her first round doubles match.

Erakovic and partner Monica Puig of Puerto Rico were beaten in three sets by 13th seeds Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic.

The New Zealander lost her first round singles match to 24th seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

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