In the Australian Open second round, world no. 1 Rafael Nadal ousted Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 after challenging two and a half hours. It was Nadal's 63rd victory in Melbourne and the 127th at hard-court Majors, joining Andre Agassi on the third place in the Open era, behind Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
In their previous three matches, Rafa barely lost a couple of games against Federico, working harder in this one but still finding a way towards the finish line in straight sets. The Argentine gave his best against the former champion in sets one and two, making too many mistakes in the end and missing the opportunity to at least win the second set and extend the battle.
The Spaniard had 33 winners and 29 unforced errors after struggling in the second set, still doing enough to seal the deal in three sets and avoid spending more time on the court ahead of the better-ranked opponents. The 2009 champion lost 19 points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and delivering three breaks from no less than 20 chances, enough to put him over the finish line.
Nadal held at 15 in the opening game and wasted six break chances in the next one, allowing Delbonis to bring the game home after eight deuces and get his name on the scoreboard. Rafa produced another fine hold in game three and claimed four straight points on the return to grab a break and open a 3-1 gap after half an hour.
The Spaniard confirmed the advantage with a hold at love and repeated that with a service winner to move 5-2 ahead.
Rafael Nadal defeated Federico Delbonis in the Australian Open second round.
Serving in game eight, the Argentine fended off two set points to bring the game home and extend the battle before Rafa closed the ninth game with a service winner to secure the opener 6-3.
The second set offered nine break chances for the world's leading player, squandering them all to keep the rival in contention. Federico brought the opening game home from 40-0 down and repelled two more break opportunities with service winners at 2-2 to remain on the positive side.
Producing bold hitting, Delbonis erased three break points at 3-3 and could have stolen the set on the return at 5-4, standing two points from taking it. Nadal held and created his last break opportunity in game 11, denied by Delbonis who reached the tie break, hoping for another steal.
Remaining focused, Nadal opened a 5-2 lead with an ace down the T line and wrapped up the set after a service winner at 6-4 for a massive boost. Rafa had some troubles on serve in the third set's opening games, passing those without facing break points and stealing Delbonis' serve at love in game four top open a 3-1 gap.
Running out of steam, Federico suffered another break in game six before Rafa sealed the deal with a forehand down the line winner in game seven that propelled him over the finish line and into the last 32.