World no. 1 Rafael Nadal scored the 63rd victory at the Australian Open, ousting Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 after challenging two and a half hours. The Argentine gave his best to stay on the level terms with a former champion but it wasn't enough at least for a set in the end, making too many errors and missing a chance to put more pressure on Rafa on the return.
The Spaniard had 33 winners and 29 unforced errors, struggling to find the rhythm in the second set but still doing enough to seal the deal in straight sets and avoid spending more time on the court ahead of the better-ranked opponents in the next rounds.
He lost 19 points in his games, never facing a break point and delivering three breaks from no less than 20 chances, enough to put him over the finish line. Finding the rhythm behind the initial shot instantly, Rafa waited for a chance on the return in the opening set, wasting six already in the second game and clinching a break next time around to move 3-1 up after almost half an hour.
Delbonis fended off two set points in the eighth game before Nadal closed the set a few minutes later after more than 50 minutes of grueling battle. The second set went down to the wire and it was Rafa who squandered nine break opportunities, unable to make that extra step and finish the job before the tie break.
There, Nadal prevailed 7-4 and that gave him a massive boost, dominating in set number three with a couple of breaks to seal the deal and move into the next round where he plays against a compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta. Nadal is trying to win the second Australian Open title after that lone one from 2009, losing many finals in the following years and hoping to change that next Sunday.