Rafael Nadal was in ominous form as he overwhelmed Australia’s Matthew Ebden in straight sets to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The Spanish superstar, who cut short his 2018 season to have surgery on a foot injury, raced through the tie in just under two hours to stay on track for an 18th Grand Slam title.
The 32-year-old’s newly remodelled serve only briefly came under pressure from Ebden, 31, who enjoyed vociferous home support on Rod Laver Arena before losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Ebden forced three break points at 3-2 in the first set, but could convert none before the second-seeded Spaniard reeled off four games in a row to close it out in 35 minutes.
It was one-way traffic from then on as Nadal, sporting a trademark sleeveless shirt, cruised into the last 32.
“I played a solid match, I was happy with the way I served. I did a few things very well,” said Nadal, who next plays Australian 27th seed Alex de Minaur.
“It is an honour to play here. Was a great atmosphere.”
Nadal 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.