MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Spain’s Rafa Nadal will begin his quest for a 20th Grand Slam title against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien at the Australian Open on Tuesday, while organizers are confident a rain-hit opening day will not hold up the tournament.
World No. 1 Nadal, the reigning French and U.S. Open champion, has not lifted the trophy at Melbourne since his first triumph at the hardcourt competition in 2009, but the 33-year-old is fresh and injury-free for the first time in many months.
There will be freshness in the air over Melbourne Park too with Monday’s heavy rain likely to further improve conditions for players after qualifying matches were affected by choking smoke from Australia’s bushfires.
However, organizers were left with a different headache as the incessant downpour forced the cancellation of various opening round matches on outer courts. They were set to be completed on Tuesday with better weather forecast.
In other men’s matches on Tuesday, U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev of Russia will take on unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, while Germany’s Alexander Zverev meets Italy’s Marco Cecchinato and local hope Nick Kyrgios plays another Italian in Lorenzo Sonego.
Among the women, second seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic is in action against France’s Kristina Mladenovic while Romania’s Simona Halep meets American Jennifer Brady.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)