— Rafael Nadal ditched his trademark sleeveless top in favor of a more conservative T-shirt.
His bulging biceps are no longer exposed to view, but they're certainly still driving the top-ranked player's muscular approach to the game.
The 22-year-old Spaniard bullied Christophe Rochus around Rod Laver Arena with some brutal forehands and 10 aces in a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 first-round victory at the Australian Open.
He hit 47 winners in 22 games. Rochus, a Belgian who turned 30 last month, could get nowhere near most of them.
Having the last match of the opening round had its advantages for Nadal. He already had seen how Roger Federer, defending champion Novak Djokovic and fourth-ranked Andy Murray had progressed.
He soon would get another look at Federer and Djokovic in the second round. Match 2 in Federer's quest to tie Pete Sampras' record 14th Grand Slam title is against Russian Evgeny Korolev.
Nadal deflected a question about his intentions with such an aggressive start. He was less interested in upping the ante on his highly ranked rivals, he said, than in gauging himself after a six-week layoff for tendinitis in his right knee.
"I am no thinking nothing about this," he said. "I just think about try to play well myself. Roger and Novak and Murray, they are far (away) in the draw."
No. 9 James Blake beat Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, joining just three fellow American men — No. 7 Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and Amer Delic — in the second round.
The Williams sisters navigated the first step in the path to a potential semifinal showdown and, rather than do their own thing on the days between singles matches, have decided to play doubles.
Serena Williams opened her campaign for a 10th major — and to continue her odd-year pattern of Australian titles that stretches back to 2003 — with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 123rd-ranked Yuan Meng. The temperature topped 104 degrees, prompting Williams to finish points quickly.
The temperature had dropped to 79 degrees for Venus Williams' 6-3, 6-3 win over Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva beat Germany's Kristina Barrois to extend her winning streak to 11 matches.
Christina McHale, 16, of New Jersey played one of the event's most dramatic matches. She fought excruciating, recurrent cramps early in the third set to go ahead 5-3, but eventually lost 1-6, 6-3, 9-7 to Australia's Jessica Moore in a matchup of wild-card entries. That left the Williams sisters as the only American women in the final 64.
In the early women's second round, No. 5 seed Ana Ivanovic regained momentum, beating Italy's Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-2. No. 3 Dinara Safina rallied for a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-0 win over fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, and No. 10 Nadia Petrova won 6-3, 6-2 over India's Sania Mirza.
Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Muhammad Ali lookalike who launched his run to the last Australian final with a win over Murray and beat Nadal in a semifinal, started this time with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 win over Juan Monaco of Argentina. Two fellow Frenchmen, No. 6 Gilles Simon and No. 24 Richard Gasquet, also advanced.
No. 13 Fernando Gonzalez, runner-up here to Federer in 2007, ended Lleyton Hewitt's 13th Australian Open with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory. In the second round, No. 11 David Ferrer romped 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 over 31-year-old qualifier Dominik Hrbaty.
Rochus is touting Nadal, who beat Federer in the French Open and Wimbledon finals and usurped his No. 1 ranking last year. Rochus was playing his 31st Grand Slam tournament and couldn't remember getting so badly mauled.
He later joked that this Grand Slam event would be his last.
"He was going full power on every shot, and to every corner of the court," Rochus said, still shaking his head. "He knew he had almost no chance to lose."
What's up Down Under WEATHER: Gusty winds; peak temperature at 104 degrees but dropping soon after.NOTABLE FIRST-ROUND WINNERS: Rafael Nadal, James Blake, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva.NOTABLE FIRST-ROUND LOSER: Lleyton Hewitt.STAT OF THE DAY: 47 winners by Nadal in 22 games against Christophe Rochus.TV: 8 a.m. on The Tennis Channel and 3 p.m. (taped) on ESPN2; 7 p.m. on The Tennis Channel, then 11 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. on ESPN2.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun