MELBOURNE                 -             Rafa Nadal passed up a good few chances for an earlier finish to his night before muscling his way into the third round of the Australian Open with a commanding 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1 victory over Argentine Federico Delbonis on Thursday.

The victory set up a third round clash with countryman Pablo Carreno Busta, his doubles partner at this month’s ATP Cup. Nadal looked on track for another straightforward victory after racing through the opening set, sealing it with a trademark crosscourt forehand. But he found it tougher going in the second, which went with serve up to the tiebreaker. Nadal, though, came through and Delbonis never recovered as the Spaniard asserted his authority to race home, but not before hitting a ball-girl on the head with a ball. He rushed over to console her and gave her a kiss for good measure.

Top 10 seeds Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev got through in straight sets while Dominic Thiem had to take the scenic route through five sets as they advanced to the third round. Russian fourth seed Medvedev insisted a mid-match nosebleed was not a serious problem as he overcame an underarm serve and stiff resistance from Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez. He was pressed hard in a competitive first set before grinding down the 22-year-old Spaniard 7-5, 6-1, 6-3.

World No 5 Thiem survived a five-set scare after being pushed hard by gutsy home hope Alex Bolt 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 in 3 hours and 22 minutes. Former champion Stan Wawrinka battled back from a break down in the fifth set to overcome fellow veteran Andreas Seppi 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to set a meeting with John Isner. Germany’s Zverev won his second straight Grand Slam match in straight sets against Egor Gerasimov 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5.

Showman Nick Kyrgios beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. It set up a third-round clash with either Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov, who overcame Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in the fifth set tiebreak. Qualifier Ernests Gulbis continued his good run beating Aljaz Bedene 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

World No 2 Karolina Pliskova continued her unbeaten run in 2020 while fourth seed Simona Halep had to battle a few nervy moments as they advanced to the third round of the Australian Open. Pliskova beat former Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3. She had to fight back from a slow start after going down a break early but reeled eight aces in her straight sets win.

Former champion Angelique Kerber eased into the third round with a straight-set victory, surviving a tricky test against 21-year-old Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-2. Kerber overcame World No 139 Hon. Switzerland’s sixth seed Belinda Bencic beat Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 7-5. CiCi Bellis beat 20th seed Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-4.

Donna Vekic reached the third round for first the time in her career with a 6-4, 6-2 win over France’s Alizé Cornet. Ninth seed Kiki Bertens matched her career-best Australian Open result on beating wildcard Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 7-5. Garbine Muguruza defeated local hope Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Carla Suarez Navarro went down to 18-year-old Iga Swiatek 6-3, 7-5.