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21 Jan, 2020 09:48

Australian Open 2020: Rafael Nadal makes storming start, then hails fans for Australian bushfire fundraiser (VIDEO)

Rafael Nadal kicked off his Australian Open campaign in dominant fashion as he thrashed unseeded Bolivian Hugo Dellien in straight sets, then thanked the fans for their fundraising efforts to help fight the Australian bushfires.

The Spanish star and No. 1 seed is bidding to capture his 20th Grand Slam title to draw level with Roger Federer's record, but said that equalling the Swiss ace's record isn't a target he's specifically pursuing.

Instead, he says, all he is interested in is playing at his very best. If he does that, the titles will take care of themselves.

"If I am able to reach my highest level, that's the thing that I have to worry about," said Nadal after his victory.

"If I am able to play at my highest level, normally I am able to produce some good chances. If not, impossible.

"So, I don't care about 20 or 15 or 16 (Grand Slam titles). I just care about trying to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career.

"It's not like 20 is the number that I need to reach. If I reach 20, fantastic. If I reach 21, better. If I reach 19, super happy about all the things that I did in my tennis career, no?

"I don't think in the future ... achieving 21 Grand Slams, for example, I'm going to be happier than if I (have) 19 in 10 years."

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Nadal is strongly tipped to add to his Grand Slam record when the tour reaches Roland Garros for the French Open - he has won there in 12 of the last 15 years. But he hasn't had the same luck Down Under.

He holds the French Open title, as well as that of the U.S. Open which, like Australian Open, is played on a hard court. But for some reason Nadal has found life easier in New York than in Melbourne.

"I went through a couple of things, more than in New York honestly," he explained.

"But I don't know. Maybe the conditions are better for me in New York than here. That's the only reason that I can find."

Following his win, Nadal also thanked the fans for their support of the Rally For Relief fundraising effort, which has raised in excess of $5 million to help fight the Australian bushfires and the catastrophic damage caused.

"All that matters is just help," he said.

"All the world of tennis is together to try to help the disaster that we are going through here in Australia this last couple of months.

"So just super-happy that we raised a lot of money for it. I know money's not everything, but in some way I think that can help to recover the distaster that we are going through a little bit faster.

"So I'm happy for that. Thank you for the support of all the crowd, because of all of them, we raised a lot of money."

Nadal moves on to take on either Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa in the next round.

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