Melbourne, Jan 20 (AP) If Rafael Nadal is getting nervousas he eases closer to winning his fourth consecutive GrandSlam, he sure isn''t showing it.
After his 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win today over American qualifierRyan Sweeting, the Spanish star appeared as comfortabletalking about his next match -- against 18-year-old AustralianBernard Tomic -- as he was in beating Sweeting soconvincingly.
"Practice a little bit tomorrow, rest in the hotel, maybegoing to the aquarium -- I go every year. Nothing different,"Nadal said, when asked about his preparations for Saturday''smatch.Shrugging his shoulders and smiling, he added: "If Istart getting nervous two days before a match, I have a bigproblem."
Nadal hasn''t had any real problems in recent Grand Slams-- today''s win was his 23rd in a row in majors going back tothe first round of the French Open last year. Since then, he''scarted back to his home in Majorca trophies from RolandGarros, Wimbledon and the U S Open.
A fourth from the Australian Open -- the Norman BrookesChallenge Cup that he won in 2009 -- would make him the firstman since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles atonce.
He''s off to an impressive start at Melbourne Park,conceding only four games in two matches, although his openeragainst Marcos Daniel was cut short when the Brazilian had toretire with a knee injury trailing 6-0, 5-0.
Nadal seems so relaxed that he even played the comedian.
Asked how he thought Tomic should approach the match, thosemuscular shoulders shrugged again and, to laughter, hereplied: "Play very, very bad please. ... That''s what I''d tellhim."
The other player looking as impressive as Nadal this weekis U S Open champion Kim Clijsters, who is fast becoming afavorite for the women''s title in the absence of defendingchampion Serena Williams with a foot injury.
Clijsters dumped former No 1-ranked Dinara Safina out ofthe tournament in the first round, 6-0, 6-0. Today, she beatCarla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-1, 6-3.
"I tried to play both sides of the court, tried to beaggressive and dictate the points," Clijsters said. "And itworked."
Her third-round, 6-0, 6-1 loss to Nadia Petrova last yearwas her worst in a major. It''s a defeat she claims she doesn''tdwell on and doesn''t think will influence her preparations forthe same stage this weekend, which is just as well. She couldmeet Petrova in the fourth round."I don''t think I''ve ever played a match like that. So itwas very easy in a way to also forget about it, as well,"Clijsters said. (MORE) AP CM
Second-seeded Vera Zvonareva overcame a shaky start to beat Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Zvonareva wasa finalist at the last two Grand Slams.
Joining her in the third round from the bottom half ofthe draw were No 5 Sam Stosur, No 10 Shahar Peer, who beatSorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-2, and No 22 Flavia Pennetta.
Local hope Stosur beat Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-3, 6-2.
The French Open runner-up is trying to become the firstAustralian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley (Wimbledon1980) to win a singles Grand Slam.
"It''s probably the best I''ve hit the ball all summer,"said Stosur, who plays Petra Kvitova in the third round.Seventh-seeded Jelena Jankovic lost 7-6 (3), 6-3 toChina''s Peng Shuai, continuing an unimpressive streak of sevenlosses in eight matches. It was former world No 1 Jankovic''sworst result at a major since the 2009 U S Open.
Also, 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beatPetra Martic of Croatia 6-3, 6-4, and 13th-seeded Petrovadefeated Australian Alicia Molik 6-4, 6-1.
Fourth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden advanced with a6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-1 win over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
Argentina''s David Nalbandian, who beat former No 1 LleytonHewitt in a five-set, first-round match on Tuesday, retiredfrom his second-round match with Richard Berankis of Lithuaniadue to an unspecified illness. Berankis was leading 6-1, 6-0,2-0.
Other seeded players advancing in the men''s draw were No10 Mikhail Youzhny, No 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No 15 MarinCilic and No 32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Tomic, the last Australian male left in the draw,advanced with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over No 31 FelicianoLopez of Spain, while Canada''s Milos Raonic also produced asecond-round upset, beating No 22 Michael Llodra of France 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Tomic will now play the biggest match of his youngcareer, likely at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night before15,000 fans who will be mostly in his corner
"A lot of things are going to be flying through my head,but I dream that it happens once, and hopefully there''s a lotmore in my career," said Tomic. "I''ll sort of put my brainaside ... just relax and play tennis."
Nadal also spoke about the kind of relaxation that hisstellar 2010 season has given him.
"I am in a different moment of my career," Nadal said. "Iam lucky. I am 24 and a half. I''ve won what I''ve won, andthat''s more than I''ve ever dreamed. That''s given me a lot ofcalm." (AP) CM