Rafael Nadal has flexed his muscles and continues his imperious start to 2017 to set up a mouth-watering Brisbane International quarter-final with defending champion Milos Raonic.
Nadal delivered a tennis clinic on Thursday night to completely outclass German serve-volleyer Mischa Zverev 6-1 6-1 in just 55 minutes at Pat Rafter Arena.
The 14-time grand slam champion, who has won five matches in the past week in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane, showed he deserved to start among the leading contenders at the Australian Open with his impeccable form.
World No.51 Zverev had no answer to Nadal who hit 30 winners to five in the one-sided match.
The 29-year-old German, whose younger brother Alex upset Roger Federer in the Hopman Cup, was never any chance of a repeat boilover.
He actually had a break point at 1-1 in the third game but from there it was all Nadal as the Spaniard pick off his serve-volley game all too easily.
Working his way back from knee and wrist injuries, Nadal will find the going much harder on Friday night against world No.3 Raonic.
“He had a fantastic year last year and I know tomorrow will be a very hard match,” he said. “I know I will have to play my best.”
Raonic, the defending champion, also progressed to the quarter-finals with a straight sets win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman at Pat Rafter Arena on Thursday.
While currently ranked lower at No.9, Nadal will start favourite following his victory over the Canadian in Abu Dhabi last week.
“This is an amazing feeling,” he said. “To be back on court is special especially when you’ve had injuries and had some hard times.”
Nadal was well pleased and was only slightly disappointed with his first serve accuracy of 47 per cent.
“I played a great match,” he said. “(It’s) difficult say something negative, because in general I saw after, on the video screen, like, 30 winners and just a few unforced errors.
“(I’m) returning very well, I think. A lot of great passing shots.”
Nadal said he needed to improve his serve and also be aggressive on his returns against Raonic.
“His serve is huge, and he improved a lot from the baseline, too,” he said. “It’s a match that you cannot (make) mistakes if you want to really have any chance.”