Rafael Nadal is eager for more games after sending another ominous message to his Australian Open competitors with a win over Jason Kubler. In just his second competitive outing after nearly a year out of the game, Nadal cast sentiment aside to crush Kubler 6-1 6-2 in a tennis masterclass on Thursday night. The 22-times grand slam champion followed up his imperious first-round win over Dominic Thiem with an equally breathtaking display at Pat Rafter Arena. Nadal not only exhibited his unmatched intensity and iron will but also showed fans that he still possesses extraordinary physical powers despite almost being 38 years old and after hip surgery. Time and again the mighty Spaniard ran down Kubler’s drop shots to flick away winners or ran around backhands to unleash his ferocious cross-court off-forehand. Kubler, once labeled the “right-handed Rafa” due to his supreme athleticism and clay-court class, never had a chance. The Brisbane native and former world No.1 junior didn’t win a single rally until midway through the fourth game as Nadal stormed through the opening set with a sublime mix of power and precision. “It has been a very positive match for me, the chance to play a game tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I started the match playing very well, with very good determination. I saw videos of Jason before the match and I saw him play very solid from the baseline, so I came on court trying to be aggressive with my shots from the baseline, and it worked very well.” Even Kubler offered a wry smile and nudge to fans after finally earning a point midway through the set. The only time Nadal looked troubled was when the umpire sheepishly issued the great and fastidious Spaniard a time violation for returning late to the court after a post-first-set toilet break. After briefly protesting, Nadal shrugged off the affront to storm through the second set with a similar display of shot-making excellence to book a quarter-final date on Friday with another Australian, Jordan Thompson. “It means a lot to me – two victories after a long time being outside of the professional tour is something that makes me feel good and happy for that,” Nadal said. Until facing Thiem this week, the Spaniard hadn’t played since first suffering his hip injury in a second-round loss to American Mackenzie McDonald at last year’s Australian Open. The former world No.1 knows he still needs more court time to be a contender for a third Open crown when the Melbourne Park major gets under way on Sunday week. “I need matches. I need help,” Nadal said. “I need to keep practicing. Of course, the last two matches here help, and even the doubles the first day too. Of course, victories and spending hours on court help, and, for me, it’s every day that I have the chance to play is great news. So, I’m just happy that I came back after a long time and I feel myself competitive. That’s all I want, and then let’s see what’s going on and how far I can go for sure.” Meanwhile, young Russian sensation Mirra Andreeva halted Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova’s bright run at the Brisbane International with a 6-1 6-1 win. The 16-year-old, already ranked as high as No.43 in the world, denied Rodionova entry into the world’s top 100 for the first time. Andreeva will meet 19-year-old Linda Noskova for a place in the final four after the Czech talent beat Argentina’s Julia Riera in three sets.

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