MELBOURNE – Top seed Rafael Nadal ruthlessly brushed aside Victor Estrella Burgos to power into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.
The world No.1, a beaten finalist to Roger Federer in Melbourne last year, clinically took apart the 81st-ranked Dominican to forge a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win in 94 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
He next plays Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
“I'm very happy to be back, it's a very important beginning for me. It's good news for me,” he said. “I want to enjoy every moment I'm here on this court.”
The Spaniard left nothing to chance with eight service breaks and 28 winners in a complete first-up performance, dispelling fears over any knee trouble. Nadal, 31, wore no strapping on his knee, appeared to move freely and combined his trademark power game from the back of the court.
It took his Australian Open record to 52-11 as he chases his second Melbourne Park title after beating Federer in the 2009 final.
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 to 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, with Federer breathing down his neck.
Nadal only conceded three games in the match and had few problems with Estrella Burgos, who has a modest 6-15 record at Grand Slams.