Rafael Nadal rolls in opening match

MELBOURNE, Australia -- If Rafael Nadal needed any reminding of how long it has been since he won the Australian Open, he only needed to look at the "09" on the back of his left shoe.

After spending most of the last six months on the sideline in an extended injury layoff, and after a first-round loss in a warm-up tournament, the 14-time Grand Slam winner said he was low on confidence coming into the first major of the year.

The Spaniard remedied that, for a while at least, with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny on Day 1 of the Australian Open, where he won the title in 2009 and lost in the finals in 2012 and last year. Nadal hit 37 winners, and got his skipping, double-fist-pumping celebration going during the third set.

"Very positive result for me. I think very good start," he said. "Always before the first match you always have the doubts, especially in this situation I'm arriving here. Never easy, but it was an important match for me ... a comfortable victory that give me some confidence."

The Australian Open is the only major Nadal hasn't won at least twice, and he has long wanted another triumph in Melbourne to complete a second full career Grand Slam. He has come close, losing to Novak Djokovic in a 5-hour, 53-minute epic final in 2012 and to Stan Wawrinka last year.

A right wrist injury and an appendix operation that limited Nadal to seven matches after Wimbledon have taught him the benefits of patience.

And a Jan. 5 loss to Michael Berrer in Doha helps keep him grounded.

"When that happens after a tough period of injuries you arrive here with doubts," he said. "This first match was tough mentally for me.

"Today is very hard to speak about having [title] chances. I have one match. That's better than two days ago, but I need more to feel that I am ready for something very important here. It's the moment to really give to this victory the right value."

Second-seeded and 17-time major champion Roger Federer won his 74th match in 85 starts at Melbourne Park, defeating Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.

The four-time Australian Open champ, wearing a neon yellow shirt that matched his shoes, broke Lu's service in the 11th game of the final set and held in the next to advance to the second round.

Federer last won the championship here in 2010 and has made the semifinals the past four years. He lost last year's semifinal to Nadal, the 11th time the pair had met in a major.

Sixth-seeded Andy Murray, who has lost three Australian Open finals, began his quest for the elusive title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri.

No. 7-seeded Tomas Berdych beat Alejandro Falla 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3, No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov defeated Dustin Brown 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, No. 14 Kevin Anderson had a 7-6 (5), 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win over Diego Schwartzman, and No. 20 David Goffin beat 36-year-old Michael Russell, the oldest player in the men's draw, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-0.

Also advancing on the men's side were No. 22-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 24 Richard Gasquet, No. 29 Jeremy Chardy and No. 32 Martin Klizan.

The only seeds in the men's draw to fall out during the first round were No. 11 Ernests Gulbis and No. 15 Tommy Robredo -- who retired with a groin injury after five games against Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Gulbis wasted four match points before losing to 18-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis in five sets in a late match. The Aussie teenager went around the court high-fiving fans to celebrate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.