MELBOURNE - Top seed Rafael Nadal has made surprisingly quick work of Frenchman Gael Monfils to continue his smooth march through the early rounds of the Australian Open.
Crowd-pleasing shot-maker Monfils, the 25th seed, had taken a set off the world No.1 just a fortnight earlier in the final of the Doha ATP event.
And he had been impressive in the first two rounds at Melbourne Park, beating Americans Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock in straight sets.
But he could make little impression on Saturday night in the face of the sustained power and accuracy of Nadal, who won 6-1 6-2 6-3.
Nadal, who lost a marathon final to four-time champion Novak Djokovic two years ago, but missed last year's tournament through injury, said it meant a lot to be back at Melbourne Park healthy and in great form.
"I'm very emotional to have the chance to play well again in Australia after missing last year," he said.
The win continued the Spaniard's comfortable ride through the early rounds.
He has dropped just 18 games total in three matches.
In the first round, Australia's Bernard Tomic withdrew just a set into their clash and Nadal then overpowered Australian 17-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis in round two.
Nadal broke Monfils serve in the first game on Saturday night.
While the Frenchman had three break points on Nadal's first service game, the top seed saved all of them and wasn't down another break point in the first two sets.
After losing the first set, Monfils stayed with Nadal early in the second.
But the relentless pressure told in the sixth game, as he produced three double-faults to hand Nadal a break.