Rafael Nadal overcomes Leonardo Mayer in straight sets to reach third round
Rafael Nadal continued his smooth progress at the Australian Open in Melbourne with a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory over Leonardo Mayer on Rod Laver Arena.
The world number one and number one seed was thrilled with his progress in two hours and 38 minutes in Melbourne after producing a couple of spectacular winners in the tie-break to ensure the world number 52 from Argentina did not force the match to a fourth set.
"He is a very dangerous opponent, I produced a couple of great shots in the tie-break," said Nadal, who won his only Australian Open in 2009.
"I'm happy to be in the third round after so long without competition.
"It is a very special feeling playing on this court."
Nadal looks at the very peak of his powers after a knee problem forced him to withdraw from the World Tour finals last November, his last competitive action before his trip to the first Grand Slam of the season.
He improves his head-to-head record against Mayer to 5-0, but he was obviously wary of the threat his opponent provided having dropped the opening set to him in the last 32 before winning in four sets on his way to claiming the US Open last year.
Channelling his early years with a sleeveless shirt, the muscular Mallorcan threw Mayer around like a rag-doll, pounding him with a barrage of top-spin bombs.
A masterful performance was blighted only by a late wobble, when Nadal was broken serving for the match at 5-4 in the decider.
But the Spaniard found an extra gear in the breaker, wrapping up the match with a monster serve to the corner that Mayer battled to get a racket to.
Nadal's bid for a 17th Grand Slam title continues against Bosnian 28th seed Damir Dzumhur on Friday.