World no. 1 Rafael Nadal is a set away from booking a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open, taking a 6-1, 6-3 lead against the fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Rod Laver Arena. Playing in day conditions again, Nadal has raised his level after a shaky performance versus Federico Delbonis in the previous round, dominating on both serve and return to match closer to the finish line and secure a spot in the last 16 where his main rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic already wait.
Rafa was even more impressive than in the opening set, firing 15 winners and two unforced errors and dropping two points behind the initial shot to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. Again, he broke Carreno Busta twice to control the scoreboard and make another big step towards the place in the next round.
Rafa picked up where he left in the first set, securing a break at love in the first game thanks to a loose volley from Carreno Busta, hitting four winners in game two to confirm the advantage and staying on a steady course towards the victory.
Pablo also delivered a hold at love with a service winner in the third game, getting his name on the scorebaord and playing better in the next games as well to remain within one break deficit. Rafa was still clinical behind the initial shot, firing a service winner in the fourth game to open a 3-1 advantage before the younger Spaniard held at love to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
Nadal closed the sixth game with two service winners and broke the opponent again in the next game thanks to a stunning defense and a forehand winner at the net, serving for the set in the next game. Nadal opened that eighth game with an ace down the T line, landing a forehand down the line winner in the next game and creating three set points with another service winner under his belt.
He converted the second with a smash winner, taking a 6-1, 6-2 advantage after 57 minutes and racing towards the finish line on Rod Laver Arena.