Nadal marches on in Melbourne

Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round of the Australian Open following a straight set win over Matt Ebden on Wednesday.

The Spaniard needed just under an hour and half to defeat the local hopeful 6-3, 6-2 under lights at the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal was better in the bigger moments, saving all four breakpoints he faced.

The Australian, buoyed by the partisan crowd, started well, trading service games with the Nadal and earning the first three breakpoints of the match. But like a true champion, Nadal countered right away breaking serve and holding to go one set up.

It was one way traffic from there, as the 17-time grand slam winner reeled off 15 of the next 19 games to book a spot in the third round. Nadal will have to face the crowd again as he is set to meet another local, 27th seed Alex de Minaur.

“Every day is a test, and especially when you are back after injuries,” said the 32-year-old afterwards.

“I think I played a solid match, I’m happy with the way my serve worked, and I think I did a few things very well – serve and first shot have been very, very positive, hitting a lot of winners with my forehand. And with my return, I think I’ve been improving during the match.”

Elsewhere, tenth seed and rising star Karen Khachanov made easy work of Yoshihito Nishioka, powering 15 aces pas the Japanese to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

20th seed Grigor Dimitrov needed four sets to defeat Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 while Roberto Bautista Agut notched up another five set thriller in his 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3 win over Henri Laaksonen.