MELBOURNE, Australia - Rafael Nadal extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win today over American qualifier Ryan Sweeting to reach the third 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 has conceded only four games en route to the third round, sealing his win over Sweeting with another of his rifling forehands.
After retiring with an injury in the quarterfinals at the last Australian Open, Nadal rebounded to win the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
Never miss a local story.
“I feel good. Today the serve started to work much better,” Nadal said. “Only one (bad) moment, when the sun came in my eyes,” Nadal said. “It was a positive victory for me, an important victory.”
Kim Clijsters showed why she’s fast becoming a hot favorite for the women’s title by beating Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-1, 6-3.
U.S. Open champion Clijsters opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over former No. 1-ranked Dinara Safina, but Suarez Navarro was a potentially dangerous second-round matchup. The 22-year-old Spaniard beat Venus Williams in a second-round upset in her first trip to Melbourne Park two years ago.
“She is a tough player. She’s tricky. The balls bounce so much different than for my first round,” Clijsters said. “I was just happy with the way that I played. I tried to play both sides of the court, tried to be aggressive and dictate the points. And it worked.”
Joining her in the third round from the bottom half of the draw were No. 10 Shahar Peer, who beat Sorana Cirstea, 6-3, 6-2, and No. 22 Flavia Pennetta, who beat Lourdes Dominguez, 6-2, 6-2.
Seventh-seeded Jelena Jankovic lost, 7-6 (3), 6-3, to China’s Peng Shuai, continuing an unimpressive streak of seven losses in eight matches. It was former world No. 1 Jankovic’s worst result at a major since the 2009 U.S. Open.
While Clijsters has advanced easily, Venus Williams has had a challenging time.
Williams injured a muscle between her stomach and groin Wednesday as she twisted for a volley. She needed a medical timeout after losing the first set. She was on the verge of tears, and apparently elimination, but the seven-time Grand Slam winner rallied to take the next two sets and defeat Sandra Zahlavova, 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-4.
Roger Federer faced a more familiar problem – Gilles Simon. He’s one of only three men on tour with a winning record against the Swiss great. Simon, who beat Federer twice in 2008 on hard courts in their only two previous encounters, rallied to even the match at two sets each before Federer finished off a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory.