Top seed Rafael Nadal continued on course for a 20th major title as he eased past Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the second round of the Australian Open. The Spaniard had it mostly his own way despite not converting on any of his nine break points in the second set. He next faces 27th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.
Nadal into third round after straightforward victory
Delbonis was under immediate pressure as he survived a seven deuce, ten minute opening service game before holding for 1-1. He was summarily broken in his next service game despite a 40-15 lead as Nadal fired a forehand winner to claim a 3-1 edge.
A hold and more forehand precision put the Spaniard in position to blow open the first set, but Delbonis gutted his way through the game to remain in touch. Losing just two points through his first four service games, Nadal had two set points only to see the Argentine use his own serve to get out of trouble.
No matter as the world number one as Nadal responds from 30-30 to wrap up the set, the finishing point another forehand winner. He was almost quickly out in front to start the second, holding three break points in the opening Delbonis service game, but the world number 66 steered himself to safety winning five consecutive points.
A sixth double fault brought up deuce for Delbonis and he got bailed out when his shot struck the tape and bled over to Nadal's side of the net to bring up game point, the world number 66 holding on to stay in front 2-1. He continued to create break chances, this time two of them, but he also continues to waste them, Delbonis escaping trouble yet again.
The only easy hold of the set for the Argentine put him a game away from levelling the match and he went up 15-30 on the Nadal serve, his first real chance in the match and pushed the top seed to deuce, but could get no further. Another hold for each man sent the set to a tiebreaker.
It was the Spaniard who achieved the first minibreak of the match to go in front 3-1 and an ace three points later put the 2009 champion in full control at 5-2. A slice into the middle of the net brought up two set points for Nadal, but he only needed one to claim a two set lead, the finish line fully in sight.
Delbonis got to deuce on Nadal's opening service game of third set, but he still couldn't create a break point for himself and the top seed held. A hold made it 1-1, the last game the Argentine would win in the match. Finally, the top seed made a break point count with the help of more errors from the Argentine to take a 3-1 lead.
The most drama came as Nadal proceeded to take a 5-1 lead, one of his forehands accidentally striking a ball girl in the head, the Spaniard going over to see if she was OK and giving her a kiss on the cheek. He closed out the match in the next game with a ripping forehand to progress to the third round.