World no. 2 Rafael Nadal earned the 68th Australian Open victory, beating Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes. Rafa is through to the last 16 in Melbourne for the 14th time in the previous 15 trips to Down Under, struggling with a back injury but beating all three rivals in straight sets to preserve energy.
Thus, Nadal became the third player in the Open era with 30 consecutive sets won at Majors after John McEnroe and Roger Federer. Rafa lost serve once from the only break chance offered to Cameron, delivering five breaks to seal the deal in straight sets and send the determined rival packing.
Nadal lost seven points in the opening set's six service games, getting broken once and delivering two return games for 7-5. The Spaniard made a strong start and wasted his chances on the return before spraying a forehand error to fall 3-2 behind.
The Briton couldn't stay in front for too long, though, netting a forehand in game six for a break at love that brought Nadal back to the positive side. Both players produced comfortable holds in the following five games, with Norrie serving at 5-6.
Rafael Nadal is through to the last 16 at the Australian Open.
Finding the range on the return, Rafa broke the fellow left-hander at 15 to claim the opener 7-5 after 48 minutes and gather a massive boost ahead of set number two.
Controlling his strokes nicely, the 2009 champion hit eight winners and seven unforced errors in set number two, staying away from troubles on serve and delivering two breaks for 6-2. Nadal forced Norrie's error in the first game and moved 2-1 ahead with a perfect forehand down the line winner in game three.
Cameron saved two break points in the next one to remain in touch before Rafa grabbed a break at love with a smash winner at 3-2 to forge the advantage. Returning at 5-2, Nadal secured another break to wrap up the set and move closer to the finish line.
The Spaniard created two break opportunities in the third set's second game, denied by Norrie's brave hitting and two winners that kept him alive. The Briton overcame three deuces in game six to follow Nadal's pace, staying competitive until the closing stages, like in the opener.
Rafa closed the 11th game with a backhand winner and earned a match point with a forehand winner in the next one. Nadal converted it with a forced error to secure the victory and reach the last 16 without losing a set.