Rafael Nadal continued his impressive start to the Australian Open on Friday. Photo: Tracy Nearmy/BackpagePix

MELBOURNE – Rafael Nadal continued his impressive start to the Australian Open, dropping just five games in romping to a straight sets win over Damir Dzumhur on Friday.

The Spanish world No.1 took just 1hr 50min to reach the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 demolition of the 28th seeded Bosnian on Margaret Court Arena.

Nadal, a losing finalist to Roger Federer last year in Melbourne, has lost only 21 games in his three victories to reach the round of 16. He will take on Argentina's 24th seed Diego Schwartzman in Sunday's fourth round.

“I was very focused and I'm very happy to have another chance on Sunday,” Nadal said.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion conceded just 18 unforced errors and only dropped his service once.

The win took the 31-year-old's Australian Open record to 54-11 as he chases his second Melbourne title after beating Federer in the 2009 final.

Nadal was ruthless against the Bosnian, breaking his serve seven times with blistering shot-making. He breezed through the opening set with two breaks for the loss of just one game in 22 minutes.

He then broke Dzumhur in the opening game of the second and finished off the set with another break for a two sets lead. 

Nadal continued to attack Dzumhur and broke him in the second and sixth games to wrap up his night.

Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Open.

Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking after the Australian Open, with Federer breathing down his neck.