Nadal breezes past Sweeting in Aussie second round


Spain's Rafael Nadal makes a backhand return to Ryan Sweeting of the U.S. during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 12:32 a.m.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches Thursday, beating American qualifier and UF alum Ryan Sweeting 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 in the second round of the Australian Open.

The top-ranked Nadal is aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. He's conceded only four games en route to the third round, sealing his win over Sweeting with the last of a blizzard of forehand winners.

After his quarterfinal exit at the last Australian Open, Nadal rebounded to win the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.

Nadal hit some shots that Sweeting could barely believe, including a curling forehand on set point in the second that caught the baseline. With nothing to lose, Sweeting challenged the call as he walked off. The call stood.

The only hint of anything other than complete domination for Nadal came in the third set, when Sweeting broke serve in the fifth game and got within a point of bringing it back to 4-2 in a game that went to deuce five times. But Nadal went on to the break and held serve to close it out.

“A few mistakes with the backhand, that's all. My serve improved a lot since the first day. I think I was serving very well today,” Nadal said, noting the one blot on his serve was when he looked into the sun. “Movement good; backhand good; having a few more mistakes than usual. I have to play longer with the backhand. Maybe have to play a little bit more aggressive, more inside the court.”

That's not good news for Nadal's next opponent — 18-year-old Australian wild-card entry Bernard Tomic.

Sweeting said he was overwhelmed by Nadal's relentless accuracy and the fact he had to play so many shots just to earn a point.

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