MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal reached the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-0 7-5 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela on Friday, avoiding the fate that befell great rival Roger Federer who had earlier lost to Andreas Seppi.
Third seeded Nadal had himself narrowly avoided an early exit when he took five sets and more than four hours to beat American qualifier Tim Smyczek in the second round as he battled illness, but had no problems against Sela.
The matchup, later in the evening, suited Nadal, who suffered from dehydration, an upset stomach and cramping during the marathon against Smyczek.
The 14-times grand slam winner said he had recovered well enough from the experience that he had described as one of the worst he had felt in his career.
”I was still a little bit dizzy yesterday,“ Nadal said. ”I think I lost lot of fluids the other night. But in general I was not very, very bad.
“Knowing that I was going to play tonight ... I thought I going to be ready for tonight (and was) happy the way I was physically on court.”
Nadal, whose 2014 campaign was upset by injury and illness in the second half of the year, had been concerned he might not be ready for an assault on a second title at Melbourne Park, having beaten Federer in the 2009 final.
The third round match was a work in progress for the Spaniard as he dominated physically, but was also made to work hard against the diminutive Israeli, who is listed by the ATP as being 1.75m and 65kgs.
Such is the physical disparity between the pair - Nadal is 1.85m and 85kg - anyone watching may have believed the Spaniard was playing someone from the junior tournament.
Sela was overpowered but he showed impressive touch, varied his pace on return, worked the angles and earned a massive cheer when he won his first game in the third set, ending a nine-game run by the Spaniard.
Nadal said he felt the match had helped him continue to work out any kinks and he was feeling the rhythm of his game back.
“When you are on the confidence, you feel that shots come without thinking,” he said.
“If I want to have chances to keep being competitive in this tournament, I need to play this way.”
Editing by Martyn Herman