Nadal crushes qualifier in Oz

2011-01-20 06:33

Melbourne - Rafael Nadal stretched his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches as he overpowered American qualifier Ryan Sweeting to reach the third round at the Australian Open on Thursday.

The world number one cruised through 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in 1hr 42min to set up a third round encounter with either Spanish Davis Cup teammate Feliciano Lopez or Australian teenager Bernard Tomic.

The Spanish left-hander's serve was much improved from his opening round win over Brazilian Marcos Daniel and he came up with 36 winners, 21 of them off the forehand.

Nadal's Grand Slam streak goes back to his victory at the French Open last June and takes in his wins at Wimbledon and the US Open.

The Spanish top seed is bidding for his fourth straight major title to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam. Only Don Budge and Rod Laver have held all four titles at the same time.

Nadal is also chasing his second Australian Open title and 10th Grand Slam title overall. At last September's US Open he became the youngest man in the Open Era to achieve a career Grand Slam.

Nadal broke Sweeting twice to take the opening set in 29 minutes, sealing the set with a 209 kilometres (130 miles) per hour ace.

The world number one maintained the pressure on Sweeting, breaking him three times in the second set.

Sweeting, who beat Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first round, got his only break points in the fifth game of the final set when he broke Nadal's service.

But Nadal broke for the eighth time in the next game to stroll to victory.

Nadal has now reached at least the third round in all of his seven Australian Open appearances.

He said he had fully recovered from the virus that weakened him in Qatar on the way out to Australia.

"Every day I feel better and I am now totally recovered," he said after the match.