Rafael Nadal crushes Australian hopes as he beat local boy Bernard Tomic in straight sets at the Australian Open.
Nadal won the first set but Tomic stormed into a 4-0 lead in the second. However, a sloppy game from the 18-year-old saw him broken and allowed Nadal a glimmer of opportunity which he grasped. He broke twice more to take the set and the third was a formality as Nadal won 6-2 7-5 6-3.
Tomic is one of the rising stars on the ATP Tour and he showed that in the early stages as he matched the Spaniard shot for shot.
Nadal broke through in the third game for a 2-1 lead, though, and a further break in game seven set him on his way to the opening set.
Then came the Tomic resurgence.
He moved Nadal around the court beautifully, mixing up his game to the point where the nine-time grand slam winner was starting to look baffled.
But the youngster failed to keep his foot on the pedal and Nadal punished him.
The set was still in Tomic’s hands after the first break, which saw his advantage cut to 4-1, but that swiftly became 4-4 as Nadal cranked up the pressure.
Tomic held for 5-4 but he could not do it again in his next service game as Nadal edged 6-5 ahead and he served it out to effectively settle the contest.
Nadal maintained the pressure with an early break in the third and another one settled the contest as he moved a step closer to becoming the first man to hold all four major titles simultaneously since Rod Laver in 1969.
Nadal will now play 15th-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic, who beat John Isner in a marathon five-setter.
The top seed said afterwards: “Towards the end of the match I was going to the net a bit more because from the baseline I didn’t have enough shots to destroy him.
“I have to play better if I want to get to the quarter-finals. I will have a difficult match against Cilic, I will have to be more aggressive.”