Nadal breezes into 3rd round at Australia Open | sports | Hindustan Times
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Nadal breezes into 3rd round at Australia Open

sports Updated: Jan 20, 2011 10:40 IST

AP
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Rafael Nadal extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches, continuing his pursuit of a "Rafa Slam" with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win over American qualifier Ryan Sweeting to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

The top-ranked Nadal is aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

He's conceded only four games en route to the third round, sealing his win over Sweeting today with another of his rifling forehands.

After retiring with an injury in the quarterfinals at the last Australian Open, Nadal rebounded to win the French, Wimbledon and U S Open.

Nadal hit some shots that Sweeting could barely believe, including an ace to finish the first set and forehand on set point in the second when the Spaniard's curling shot caught the baseline for the winner. Sweeting challenged the call as he walked off, but the call stood.

The only hint of anything other than complete domination for Nadal came in the third set, when Sweeting broke serve in the fifth game and then had game points to bring it back to 4-2 in a game that to deuce five times. Again, Nadal held on to convert a break and served out in the next game.

"I feel good. Today the serve started to work much better," Nadal said.

"Only one (bad) moment, when the sun came in my eyes," Nadal said. "It was a positive victory for me, an important victory."

All the coverage of his "Rafa Slam" had no influence on Nadal's mindset.

"No, for sure, it's not a distraction," he said. "It's the last thing I'm thinking about right now. I'm trying to find my best level."

Kim Clijsters showed why she's fast becoming a hot favorite for the women's title by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.

US Open champion Clijsters opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over former No 1-ranked Dinara Safina, but Suarez Navarro was a potentially dangerous second-round matchup. The 22-year-old Spaniard beat Venus Williams in a second-round upset in her first trip to Melbourne Park two years ago.

"She is a tough player. She's tricky. The balls bounce so much different than for my first round," Clijsters said. "I was just happy with the way that I played. I tried to play both sides of the court, tried to be aggressive and dictate the points. And it worked."