INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Twice champion Rafa Nadal imperiously coasted into the third round of the Indian Wells ATP tournament with a ruthless 6-1 6-3 victory over Argentine Leonardo Mayer on Sunday.
The Spanish left-hander, who has reached the last four at Indian Wells in his last six appearances here, broke Mayer twice in each set to wrap up a commanding win in one hour 15 minutes.
In dazzling afternoon sunshine, the match ended when a Mayer forehand sailed wide and Nadal removed his green headband in triumph as the near-capacity crowd erupted in applause.
“I am happy to start with a victory,” the Spaniard, who will next face compatriot Marcel Granollers, said in a courtside interview. “I think I did a very good match.”
Nadal, who dominated Mayer with his crunching ground strokes from behind the baseline, has not competed since he lost an epic Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic in January.
The world number two enjoys a superb record at Indian Wells where he won the title in 2007 and 2009 and was beaten in last year’s final by Serb Djokovic.
Granollers had earlier booked his place in the third round with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win against Germany’s Tommy Haas.
Three-times champion and world number three Roger Federer was scheduled to launch his title bid at the ATP Masters 1000 event against American Denis Kudla later on Sunday.
In other matches, Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina beat Australian Marinko Matosevic and Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan battled past Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 6-7 7-5.
Editing by Julian Linden