PARIS- Rafa Nadal passed his French Open second-round test with flying colors today, showing flashes of his intimidating best in a 6-2 6-2 6-3 win over talented Austrian youngster Dominic Thiem.
The eight-times champion from Spain applauded his 20-year-old opponent after being tested on court Philippe Chatrier more than the scoreline suggested.
"His ball is so high he was able to hit strong he has completely everything to become a champion," said the world No.1, who for the first time arrived at Roland Garros having lost three matches on his favored clay this season.
"I think today I played a solid match, I knew that if I didn't I would be in trouble."
He briefly was in the third set when Thiem, who stunned world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the second round of the Madrid Masters this month, broke and held serve to open a 3-1 lead.
His booming inside-out forehands briefly put Nadal in trouble as the Spaniard eyeballed his opponent.
But Nadal won the remaining games, ending the contest on his second match point when the Austrian sent a forehand long.
Nadal, who next faces Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili or Argentine Leonardo Mayer, is on a quarter-final collision course with last year's runner-up and compatriot David Ferrer.
Fifth seed Ferrer, one of three men to beat Nadal on clay this season, wasted little time in demolishing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3 6-2.
"I am ready for the next round and was very happy with my performance, especially with my consistency," he said.
"My season on clay has been good (when asked about beating Nadal on clay this season). I have a good feel but I'm focusing on the moment."