ATP Brisbane: Dominant Rafael Nadal blasts into quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal continued his strong start to the 2017 season with a dominant second round victory on Thursday at the Brisbane International. The fifth seed needed only 55 minutes to blow out Mischa Zverev 6-1, 6-1, surrendering a mere 8 points on his own serve. Two days after being pushed in his opening match, Nadal was imperious from the start and was never bothered by Zverev’s tricky game.

Nadal powers through opener

Nadal was in control from the very first point, blowing Zverev off the court with a combination of powerful forehands. It was actually the German who got the first look at a break, taking a 15-40 lead at 1-1, but Nadal was up to the task, saving both and going on to hold. Half of the return points Zverev would win in the whole match were in that third game. The Spaniard would make his opponent pay for the missed opportunity, taking a double break point lead of his own in the following game and converted when he ripped a vintage forehand passing shot up the line for a winner.

Nadal blasts a forehand during his second round win. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Nadal blasts a forehand during his second round win. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

With the lead secured, Nadal continued to raise his level, seemingly ripping winners and unreturnable shots on command. He continued to thrash Zverev around the court and, after powering to break point in his next return game, hit a clean forehand return winner up the line to grab a double break lead. Nadal’s dominance seemed to be getting to the German late in the set, as he swung and cleanly missed his return on set point.

Zverev can’t find answer

It appeared that the match was already over right at the beginning of the second set when Zverev double-faulted on break point in the opening game to surrender the lead immediately to start the second. After Nadal consolidated for a 2-0 lead, the German would finally hold serve, stopping the Spaniard’s run at seven games. But it did little to get him back in the match as Nadal immediately held to love in the following game.

Mischa Zverev prepares for a volley. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Mischa Zverev prepares for a volley. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The fifth seed could seemingly do no wrong as he made it a double break lead in the fifth game, capping off the break with back to back passing shot winners. After a dominant hold, he turned his attention to breaking Zverev’s serve one more time for the match. As he had all day, the Spaniard pummeled his opponent’s serve and took a 0-40 lead. The German saved the first match point before, just like his final break of the opening set only this time on his backhand, Nadal ripped a clean return winner up the line to book his place in the quarterfinals.

By the numbers

Nadal dominated every facet of this match. He only dropped eight points on serve, three on his first and five on his second, and saved the only two break points he faced. Zverev was limited to 52 percent of his first serve points, only winning one more than he lost, and a mere three of 13 points on his second serve. The German would only win 42 percent of his own service points and was broken five times.

Nadal moves on to the quarterfinals where he will face a far bigger test in the form of top seed and defending champion Milos Raonic.