Tennis - Rafael Nadal crushes Matthew Ebden to secure third-round spot
Second seed Rafael Nadal enjoyed a comprehensive 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Australia's Matthew Ebden to secure his spot in the Australian Open third round.
Ebden did have his chances to break in the first set, but Nadal's doggedness emerged, giving his serve renewed vim.
"I started a little bit slow ... then I saved that game at three-all," Nadal said.
" After that, things changed. I think I played well."
Though the crowd on the Rod Laver Arena were cheering on their compatriot, Nadal's star power also guaranteed him plenty of support, and they could not help but applaud as he broke the Ebden serve to move ahead at the start of the second set.
Both the opening sets took Nadal exactly 35 minutes to conclude and sensing an early end to the proceedings, the crowd tried to lift one of its few remaining local hopes, while at the same time being dazzled by the Spaniard's control of the court.
And even if the third-set scoreline looked decisive, the Australian mustered some resistance, eking it out to over 40 minutes as he saved a match point.
Nadal, who showed no signs of discomfort from a thigh strain that troubled him ahead of the first major of the year, will play Alex de Minaur in the third round, marking his third consecutive match against an Australian.
With additional reporting from agencies