Rafael Nadal has dismissed those who doubt he can win a grand slam on a hard court after continuing his march through the early rounds at the Australian Open.
Nadal has enjoyed huge success on the French Open clay courts, winning the past four events at Roland Garros, and also has a grass-court grand slam under his belt after winning at Wimbledon last year.
He has, however, yet to crack the US Open or the grand slam in Melbourne, but the Spaniard sees no reason why he cannot break his duck at the hard-court majors this season.
‘I have won in Toronto, I won the Olympics, in Montreal and in Indian Wells on this kind of surface,’ Nadal said after defeating Roko Karanusic 6-2 6-3 6-2 in the second round today.
‘I am always trying to improve on this surface and hopefully this year I will have a chance to win here or at the US Open.’
Standing in his way in the third round is Germany's Tommy Haas, who Nadal believes will pose his first real challenge of the tournament so far.
Haas looked impressive on his way to a 6-1 6-2 6-1 victory against Italy's Favio Cipolla to set up the meeting with Nadal.
‘He's going to be the first big opponent I think and it's gonna be a very good test to see how I am shaping up,’ Nadal said of Haas.
‘I'm going to have to play very well if I want to have a chance to win.
‘I think he won very easily today so it seems he's playing well.
‘He's a very complete player. He can play slice, has a good backhand, a good forehand. He can go to the volley he has a good serve.
‘If I want to win I'll have to have more rhythm and intensity than him.’
The intensity could not have been higher in the enthralling match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ivan Ljubicic.
The first three sets were decided on tie-breaks with Tsonga losing the first but rallying to take the next two to force a fourth set, much to the delight of the vocal Hisense Arena crowd.
Tsonga, last year's runner-up, eventually overcame the Croatian 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (10/8) 7-6 (9/7) 6-2, despite struggling with a back problem which the fifth seed insisted afterwards would not hamper him against qualifier Dudi Sela in the next round.
Britain's Andy Murray finally got a full match under his belt, taking one hour 50 minutes to defeat Marcel Granollers 6-4 6-2 6-2.
Ninth seed James Blake also had a straight-sets win, defeating qualifier Sebastian de Chaunac 6-3 6-2 6-3.
It was also a good day for Nadal's compatriot Fernando Verdasco who advanced to the third round in Melbourne for the first time courtesy of an easy 6-1 6-1 6-2 win against Arnaud Clement of France.
Clement simply had no answer against the 14th seed who hit 28 winners compared to the Frenchman's 12 in a match that lasted just 95 minutes.
Richard Gasquet, the 24th seed, and Fernando Gonzalez, seeded 13, both enjoyed straight-sets victories. Gasquet defeated Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-3 6-4 6-4, while Gonzalez overcame Guillermo Canas 7-5 6-3 6-4 to reach the third round for the third straight year.
Gasquet and Gonzalez will now battle it out for the right to face either Nadal or Haas in round four.
Ivo Karlovic's tournament is over, though, the 25th seed going down 5-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 6-3 to fellow Croat Mario Ancic in an epic battle that lasted three hours and 34 minutes.
Ancic will now play sixth seed Gilles Simon, who beat Australian Chris Guccione 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 6-1 6-2.
Other seeds to progress were Gael Monfils, who needed four sets to get past Stefan Koubek, Nicolas Almagro, who beat Fabio Fognini, Radek Stepanek who needed four sets to defeat qualifier Michael Berrer, and 18th seed Igor Andreev, who was forced into a five-setter by Ernests Gulbis despite lead by two sets to love at one stage.