He hasn't missed a beat.
The 17-time major victor hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. He withdrew from a warm-up tournament in Brisbane in the first week of the season because of a muscle strain in his thigh. "It's very hard to start after an injury - I know it very well. It's very special to be back".
Nadal had promised to unveil a remodelled, improved serve at the first Grand Slam of the year and the new action was going smoothly until he served for the match at 5-3 in the third set only for Duckworth to break to love. He returned the favor very quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round.
The Spanish second seed is bidding to become the first man in the Open era, and only third in history along with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.
Sharapova, a victor at Melbourne Park in 2008 who has failed to impress at Grand Slam level since returning from a doping ban in 2017, signalled her intent with a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of Britain's Harriet Dart, who ended the match in tears.More news: Lil Uzi Vert Claims He's Quitting Music
He starts off against Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena.
Denmark's Wozniacki broke through for her first Slam title in Melbourne a year ago, beating Simona Halep in the final, and gets her tournament underway against Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck.
"When I get broken was not because of the serve", said the second seed who dished up just a single double fault. The Russian ended her 2018 season early with a shoulder injury.
Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon past year, Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart.
And can Sharapova regain the forehand potency that made her a multiple Grand Slam champion?More news: Egg beats out Kylie Jenner for most-liked Instagram photo
"From that perspective, I just have a very different opinion". I don't know my percentage, but was a lot of good positions after the first serve. "I saw him beginning of December, and he says it's a day-by-day pain management situation".
Ninth seed John Isner was stunned by his American compatriot Reilly Opelka, who secured a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) victory in a tight encounter between the towering pair that looked set to go the distance.
Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic.
Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets. She went on to beat Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (10/6). After losing two service games in the match, Nadal was pleased with it.More news: Sen. Johnson: 'Up To' Trump Who He Reads in On Putin Conversations