A beefed-up Rafael Nadal muscled his way into the second round of the Australian Open with a gritty straight-sets win on day one.
Nadal, the second seed, downed qualifier Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 6-1, as he avoided the fate of British number nine seed Andy Murray who crashed out at Melbourne Park.
There were no such troubles for most of the big names in action with the star Spaniard joined in the second round by American ace Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet of France and Nikolay Davydenko.
However, 1997 Australian Open finalist Carlos Moya, the 16th seed, was a casualty, going down in four sets to Stefan Koubek of Austria.
For brief moments it seemed Nadal may join Murray and Moya as spectators for the remainder of the tournament as Troicki went for, and made, a host of daring groundstrokes in the opening two sets.
The 126th-ranked Troicki showed no sign of nerves in his maiden Grand Slam as he mixed it with the powerful Spaniard in the early exchanges of their battle on Rod Laver Arena.
However, Nadal used his strength, skill and experience on the big stage to overcome the Serbian in a match in which he continually improved, and he will now meet Frenchman Florent Serra.
“I think I played better than him in the important moments,” Nadal said afterwards.
“I think I have to only improve a little bit more. Change the serve a little bit more and that’s it.”
While Nadal will look to improve in his second match here, Murray does not have that luxury after he was bundled out by flashy Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Three-time semi-finalist Roddick, who is seeking to atone for his embarrassing loss to eventual champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals 12 months ago, breezed to a 6-3 6-4 7-5 victory over Czech Lukas Dlouhy.
Roddick committed just 11 unforced errors across the three sets, six of them in the final one, although he did drop his serve twice including when he first served for the match at 5-4.
Next up for Roddick will be German Michael Berrer, who came from a set down to prevent an all-American duel for Roddick with a 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) over Donald Young.
Davydenko surrendered his serve in the early stages of his battle with Michael Llodra, but 44 unforced errors from the Frenchman eventually took their toll as the three-time quarter-finalist won 7-5 7-5 6-3 in 130 minutes.
With Murray left to shift his attention to Great Britain’s upcoming Davis Cup tie against Argentina in Buenos Aires, 18th seed Juan Ignacio Chela will most likely be doing the same thing after Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez won their match 6-4 6-2 1-6 6-2.
Spanish number 11 seed Tommy Robredo looked headed for an early exit when he dropped the first two sets against German Mischa Zverev but recovered to carve out a 4-6 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 7-5 victory, while 20th-seeded Croatian Ivo Karlovic needed four sets to see off Briton Jamie Baker 6-4 6-4 6-7 (1-7) 6-4.
French 23rd seed Paul-Henri Mathieu had little trouble easing past Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-2, while Finnish No.24 seed Jarkko Nieminen looked to be cruising but had to dig deep to outlast Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-3 6-1 5-7 2-6 6-1.
France’s 28th seed Gilles Simon also needed five sets to complete a 4-6 6-4 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 victory over American Bobby Reynolds, and Russian 31st seed Igor Andreev came from behind to down Romanian Andrei Pavel 5-7 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
Other winners on day one were 2003 finalist Rainer Schuettler, who beat 2001 runner-up Arnaud Clement, as well as Americans Mardy Fish and Jesse Levine, Israeli Dudi Sela, Frenchman Marc Gicquel, Belgian Kristof Vliegen, Feliciano Lopez of Spain, and Chilean Paul Capdeville.
Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, the 14th seed, had little trouble against Mathieu Montcourt of France.