Melbourne: Rafa Nadal declared himself fighting fit after easing into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Germany`s Tommy Haas on Wednesday.
The second seeded Spaniard`s last two Melbourne campaigns have been scuppered by injury and he again had heavy taping on the right knee which he injured in his hotel room over the weekend for his match against Haas on Rod Laver Arena.
The 10-times grand slam champion still raced through the first two sets with little fuss and no obvious mobility problems, before his serve faltered in the third to give the German a glimmer of hope.
Haas, twice a semi-finalist at the Australian Open, is on the comeback trail after injury but as a former world number two had enough quality to keep the match interesting, particularly when he came to the net.
The 33-year-old broke the Spaniard on his first service game in the third set but was unable to resist the explosive power of the 2009 champion, who wrapped up the match after two and a half hours when Haas hit a forehand wide.
"I don`t know if it`s the perfect match, but I won in three sets," Nadal told reporters. "It was a positive match, but not that demanding. We didn`t play four hours and a half, five hours. Three sets, so wasn`t that tough."
Nadal faces Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko or American Donald Young in the third round and Haas said the further the Spaniard went in the tournament, the more difficult it would be to beat him.
"Early on usually in tournaments it`s a good time to catch him," said the German.
"Once he has more confidence further on, it`s really tough. Like I said, lack of matches from my part and lack of fitness right now, it needs to improve."
For his part, Nadal described his knee as "very good" and said he was happy with his game but, after injuries led to his departure at the quarter-final stage for the last two years, was taking nothing for granted.
"I really practiced well," he said. "I had very good preparation. I already won two matches in straight sets with positive feeling. I am well."
"You never know. We are in the first week and every match will be difficult. Next one will be not be an exception."
First Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 16:45