Australian Open: Rafael Nadal puts on a clinical performance to ease through to the third round
Rafael Nadal continued his quest for a 21st Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory over German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann; up next for the sixth seed is a clash against Karen Khachanov
Last Updated: 20/01/22 4:31am
Rafael Nadal put on a clinical performance to ease past German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann and remain on course for a record 21st Grand Slam title.
The German qualifier put up a good fight on Rod Laver Arena, including saving four match points, but Nadal took his fifth chance to clinch a 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory after two hours and 42 minutes.
"I think I am doing things well," said Nadal. "Things that I can improve I have to improve. I want to keep going in the tournament. But winning today allows me to practise again tomorrow, to be ready for another match. After two matches it's the moment to make a step forward.
"I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the fact that I'm going to be playing in a third round for one more time here after all the things I am going through.
"I don't have big pressure on my shoulders, honestly. I don't feel it. The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing again, then give my best as I did during all my tennis career."
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Nadal is the only former champion left in the men's draw at Melbourne Park having won the title over a decade ago in 2009.
His only previous meeting with the 126th-ranked Hanfmann came on the Roland Garros clay in 2019 when Nadal lost just six games en route to a straight-sets victory.
The 30-year-old German did slightly better on a windy day at the Rod Laver Arena, but it was not enough to trouble Nadal, who hit 30 winners and broke his opponent's serve four times in the match while saving both break points he faced.
Nadal needed five match points before sealing victory when Hanfmann sent a forehand long.
The sixth seed will next meet Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the fourth round.
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Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini overcame a minor hiccup in the second set to move into the third round with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over American Stefan Kozlov.
The Italian will next face 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who became the youngest man to reach the third round at Melbourne Park since Bernard Tomic in 2011 after a 6-2 6-1 7-5 thrashing of Dusan Lajovic.
Denis Shapovalov survived a five-setter against Kwon Soon-woo, coming through 7-6 (6) 6-7 (3) 6-7 (6) 7-5 6-2 and next faces giant American Reilly Opelka.
The match of the day saw young American Sebastian Korda, son of former champion Petr, claim a deciding fifth-set tie-break against France's Corentin Moutet after four hours and 47 minutes.