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Sports

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal upset in the first round

The big news of the first round of action in the Australian Open focused on one man, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard got knocked out of a Grand Slam for just the second time in his career.

Rafael Nadal's season is not off to a good start after his slip from the upper echelon in 2015. The 29-year-old Spaniard lost in the opening round of the Australian Open, with compatriot Fernando Verdasco defeating him 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in a four-hour, 41-minute battle.

Seven years after their five-hour affair in the 2009 Australian Open semifinals, Verdasco got his revenge on Nadal, collecting his 21st win at the Australian Open. A break down in the final set, Verdasco rallied back to come away the victor.

"To win against Rafa here coming from two sets down is unbelievable," said the 32-year-old Verdasco, who was ranked No. 45 going into the tournament. "I think I played unbelievable - the fifth set from the break that he made me, I just started hitting winners. I don't know how, just, you know I was closing the eyes and everything was coming in and I keep doing it and I was doing well."

Rare early exit

Nadal, the 2009 champion, had made the Australian Open final in two of the last three tournaments. It is just the second time in Nadal's tennis career that he has been knocked out of a Grand Slam tournament in the first round.

Verdasco is to face Dudi Sela in the second round after the Israeli defeated German Benjamin Becker 6-1, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. Daniel Brands was the only German to make it out of the first round, defeating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-4, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-1. The top three in men's tennis, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer breezed through the first round, defeating their respective opponents in straight sets.

dv/pfd (AP,AFP)