The Spaniard tore through the opening set at Rod Laver Arena in only 22 minutes, serving it out 6-0 with his third ace of the set.
Nadal broke Serra again at the start of the second and the world number 88 did not get on the board until the ninth game of the match when Serra finally held his serve at the fifth attempt to make the score 2-1. Serra did not even have a break point opportunity until the sixth game of the second set but he converted at the second attempt to cut Nadal's lead to 4-2.
However, the second seed still proved too strong and broke Serra again in the next before closing out the set in 40 minutes by serving to love.
The French player was broken again at the start of the third but levelled at 2-2 when he broke Nadal in the fourth game after the Spaniard mishit a return into the net.
Nadal reasserted himself in the next game though, breaking back with a stunning backhand return down the line to take a 3-2 lead.
He then swept through the last three games of the set, sealing the win with his ninth ace of the contest.