Nadal sees off qualifier
Rafael Nadal (Associated Press)
London - Rafael Nadal had no problems making the switch from clay to grass courts as the French Open champion beat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 at Queen's on Wednesday.
Nadal was last seen four days ago swathed in a Spanish flag as he celebrated his record-equalling sixth French Open title after another victory over his old rival Roger Federer.
There was little time to savour that latest success on the crushed earth of Roland Garros however and, after a quick trip to EuroDisney, Nadal has set his sights on successfully defending his Wimbledon crown.
The rapid change of surfaces at this time of the year has troubled many great players in the past, but Nadal copes with remarkable ease.
He won back to back French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2008 and 2010 and made the Eurostar train journey from Paris to London firmly believing he can tie Bjorn Borg's record of three French-Wimbledon doubles.
Nadal, who was given a first round bye, rarely needed to get anywhere near his best against such a raw opponent as 23-year-old Ebden, who is ranked 168th in the world and has spent most of his career playing in Futures and Challenger tournaments.
Back on grass for the first time since beating Tomas Berdych in last year's Wimbledon final, Nadal quickly stamped his authority on Ebden by breaking in the first game.
He served out the first set and then broke again in the opening game of the second before cruising through to a third round meeting with Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, who beat 16th seed Ivan Ljubicic 0-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray also made a winning start to his grass-court campaign as the world No 4 defeated Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Murray, seeded second, sustained an ankle ligament injury during his run to the French Open semi-finals that briefly threatened his participation in a tournament he won in 2009.
But with the start of his home Grand Slam at Wimbledon just 11 days away, Murray, who was given a first-round bye, will be encouraged that he was able to last the distance in a tough test against the experienced Malisse.
Although this was hardly a vintage display from the British No 1, he had no obvious problems with his ankle and showed plenty of spirit to set up a clash with Serbian 14th seed Janko Tipsarevic.
"It was tricky. The court is very slow for a grass court," Murray said.
"I managed to turn it around in the end and I moved pretty well considering it was the first match. It's good to get through.
"The ankle was all right. It was a little bit sore at times but it's getting better every day."
Despite wearing a brace on the ankle, Australian Open finalist Murray was moving well enough and some wayward ground-strokes from Malisse allowed him to build a 3-1 lead before a brief rain delay.
Murray had to save two break points following the resumption and after that fright he swiftly finished off the set.
After Murray wasted three break points at 5-5 in the second set, Malisse hit back to break and level the match.
But, aided by a pair of wild forehands from Malisse, Murray broke for a 2-1 lead at the start of the final set.
He had to save two break points at 3-2 and that was Malisse's last chance as Murray served out the match.
Next up for Murray is the talented but erratic Tipsarevic, who defeated American Michael Russell 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5).
Elsewhere in the second round, South African 15th seed Kevin Anderson set up a third-round clash with four-time champion Andy Roddick after a 6-2, 6-4 win against American youngster Donald Young.
Croatian eighth seed Marin Cilic eased through to the last 16 with a 6-4, 6-4 win against French qualifier Arnaud Clement.
Results from the third day at the Queen's Club on Wednesday (x denotes seeded player):
Marin Cilic (CRO x8) bt Arnaud Clement (FRA) 6-4, 6-4
Kevin Anderson (RSA x15) bt Donald Young (USA) 6-2, 6-4
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB x14) bt Michael Russell (USA) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/5)
Andy Murray (GBR x2) bt Xavier Malisse (BEL) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
David Nalbandian (ARG x9) bt Ilija Bozoljac (SRB) 6-4, 6-4
Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Ivan Ljubicic (CRO x16) 0-6, 7-5, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-4, 6-4
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA x11) bt Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/5)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x12) bt Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 6-4, 6-4