Nadal races into third round with easy Ebden win

Matt Ebden proved no match for Rafael Nadal, who raced into the third round of the Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal lines up a forehand shot against Matt Ebden.   -  Getty Images

Rafael Nadal made light work of another Australian Open home hope as he surged into the third round with a straight-sets defeat of Matt Ebden.

The Spaniard, looking for only his second title at Melbourne Park having prevailed in 2009, needed just an hour and 56 minutes to see off the Aussie on Wednesday.

Ebden was competitive throughout and the pair combined for some entertaining rallies on Rod Laver Arena, but the gulf in class became apparent in the second set.

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That was when Nadal hit the accelerator and the increased intensity saw him motor to a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory, setting up a clash with Alex de Minaur, his third straight Australian opponent at this year's event having overcome James Duckworth in the opening round.

Ebden's only real opportunity to make it a contest came in the seventh game, in which he allowed three break points to go begging, spurning two of them with a forehand long and a backhand volley into the net.

Such miscues and wasted chances are rarely unpunished by players of Nadal's calibre and the second seed immediately compounded Edben's frustration, earning a break that the home favourite surrendered with a double fault.

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A rasping and precise off-balance forehand gave Nadal the opening set and the result looked a mere formality when he broke for a 2-1 lead in the second.

The errors began to rack up for Ebden, who won just one more game in the second as Nadal moved through the gears.

Superb placement on a backhand down the line gave Nadal three break points at 1-1 in the third, and the second was taken when Ebden hit a forehand into the net.

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Ebden produced some outstanding instances of defence, including one that saw him win a rally despite falling onto his back as he avoided a double break in the set's fifth game.

Yet there was an air of resignation about his play when he did surrender the double break, doing so with a lazy overhead that sailed well wide and, despite saving one match point, he could not prevent the inevitable as Nadal wrapped it up with a simple forehand.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN: Nadal [2] bt Ebden 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS: Nadal - 33/15, Ebden - 23/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS: Nadal - 6/4, Ebden - 7/3

BREAK POINTS WON: Nadal - 5/9, Ebden - 0/4

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE: Nadal - 65, Ebden - 67

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE: Nadal - 81/57, Ebden - 66/32

TOTAL POINTS: Nadal - 93, Ebden - 63

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