MELBOURNE (AFP) - Grand Slam titan Rafael Nadal eased some self-doubts and Andy Murray took the first steps in overcoming a minefield men's draw as the curtain went up on the Australian Open on Monday.
Nadal, a beaten finalist to Stan Wawrinka last year, turfed out Russian journeyman Mikhail Youzhny in an uncomplicated straight sets victory while Murray began a campaign hoping to end the heartbreak of three runner-up finishes in Melbourne.
The two-time Grand Slam champion Scot emerged a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) winner over India's Yuki Bhambri.
Rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov also swept to victory over Germany's Dustin Brown in just 69 minutes while Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych blew away Alejandro Falla.
Spanish world No. 3 Nadal was delighted with his win over Youzhny, a former US Open semi-finalist.
"Very positive result for me. I think a very good start. Very important," Nadal said.
Youzhny was considered a testing first-up opponent as the Spaniard searches for matches to work his way into the men's draw.
But the third seed conceded only one break point on his serve while claiming six service breaks on the Russian in a convincing win.
The 14-times Grand Slam winner has had only seven matches since Wimbledon last July due to ongoing back and wrist injuries and an appendectomy.
Murray, who is bidding to become the first player to win the Australian Open after losing three finals in Melbourne, paid tribute to former junior world No. 1 Bhambri, who is getting the finishing touches at the famed Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida.
While the 22-year-old Indian was the lowest-ranked player in the men's draw at 317, Murray was effusive about his rival's future prospects.
He said Bhambri was "way better than ranked 300 in the world".