Rafael Nadal continued his impressive start to the Australian Open, dropping just five games in romping to a straight sets win over Damir Dzumhur on Friday.
The Spanish world No.1 took just 1hr 50min to reach the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 demolition of the 28th seeded Bosnian on Margaret Court Arena.
Nadal, a losing finalist to Roger Federer last year in Melbourne, has lost only 21 games in his three victories to reach the round of 16.
He will take on Argentina’s 24th seed Diego Schwartzman in Sunday’s fourth round.
“I was very focused and I’m very happy to have another chance on Sunday,” Nadal said.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion conceded just 18 unforced errors and only dropped his service once.
The win took the 31-year-old’s Australian Open record to 54-11 as he chases his second Melbourne title after beating Federer in the 2009 final.
Nadal was ruthless against the Bosnian, breaking his serve seven times with blistering shot-making.
He breezed through the opening set with two breaks for the loss of just one game in 22 minutes.
He then broke Dzumhur in the opening game of the second and finished off the set with another break for a two sets lead.
Nadal continued to attack Dzumhur and broke him in the second and sixth games to wrap up his night.
Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.
It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Open.
Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking after the Australian Open, with Federer breathing down his neck.
Teenage sensation Marta Kostyuk was in tears after her Australian Open adventure ended Friday, but the “future of tennis” is determined to learn from the experience.
Fourth seed Elina Svitolina breezed past her Ukraine compatriot 6-2, 6-2 in just 59 minutes, leaving the 15-year-old sobbing on her mum’s shoulder, but Kostyuk wasn’t down for long.
“How much you have to pay Svitolina to have one-hour lesson? I got it for free,” she told reporters.
“I learn that you can play against everyone,” Kostyuk added of what she gained from facing the world number four.
“I had the chances, but because I thought, like, she is incredible, she’s a god, I cannot do anything against her, that’s the problem.”
Svitolina said she had actually been a pretty pricey tutor, with the difference between winning and losing in the third round a cool $97,500.
“It was expensive, because we play for prize money,” she said with a smile, adding that there were better teachers.
“I’m not good with these kind of things because I don’t want to seem like a wise ass.
“I’m not sure she really needs advice from me. She has her mum, she has coaches who do an amazing job. So, you know, I’ve nothing really to add,” said the world number four.
— Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) January 19, 2018
Kostyuk had been labelled the “future of tennis” by TV commentator and former player Sam Smith after becoming the youngest Australian Open second-round winner since “Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis in 1996.
But she produced a nervous, error-strewn third-round display against Svitolina and that, she said, was why she was inconsolable as she returned to the locker room.
“Well, because I know that I could play much better. It was, like, honestly I played really, really bad today.
“Credit to her, of course. I’m not saying she’s bad player. I’m just saying I played bad. I didn’t show even maybe even 10 per cent of what I can.”
Svitolina gave Kostyuk a huge hug and some words of consolation in a tender moment at the end of the game and said she was proud of her young countrywoman.
“I think she will remember this moment for all her life,” said Svitolina. “So that’s why (I did it). You know, it was very special.”
Kostyuk has shown maturity beyond her years this week on and off court and will stay on in Australia to play Fed Cup for Ukraine next month.
But the crying?
“I also can be a kid, you know,” she said. “It’s not like I’m always like this, serious. I’m still 15.”
The third seed had plenty to prove after a huge second-round fright from a qualifier, who pushed him to five sets.
And the Bulgarian delivered in a testing 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian rising star Andrey Rublev on Rod Laver Arena as temperatures touched 40°C.
“These are the most important matches for me, when things are not working for me and I find a way,” he said. “I’m feeling good physically, the heat didn’t scare me at all today, so that’s a good sign.”
He will next face the winner of an intriguing night match which pits Australian Nick Kyrgios against French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“Two great tennis players… What can I say?”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2018
In a tournament shorn of seeds, 81st ranked Petra Martic also swept into the round of 16, celebrating her 27th birthday by holding off a gritty three-set challenge from Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
Her reward is a match against Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who beat struggling Alize Cornet of France in two tough sets.
Cornet was among players wilting in the heat, with a doctor taking her blood pressure early in the second set as she succumbed to the baking weather.
No matches have been called off at the opening Grand Slam of the year despite the soaring temperatures, with tournament organiser Craig Tiley defending the decision.
“The policy is from consultation with the players,” he said. “These are professional athletes.
“We are at the end of the day an outdoor event. We want it to stay an outdoor event as long as possible but at the same time ensuring that the health and wellbeing of players is taken care of.”
Organisers only active the extreme heat policy and halt play or close roofs when the temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and the wet bulb globe temperature index hits 32.5°C.
On Thursday, Novak Djokovic described the conditions as “brutal”, complaining it was hard to breathe.
Kyle Edmund was the first man to reach the round of 16, overcoming the elements in a fighting five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
He is the only British man in the main draw after Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal and will play either Croatia’s 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic or Italian Andreas Seppi next.
Spanish 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, a semi-finalist at last year’s US Open, also marched on, beating Gilles Muller.