Australian Open 2012 - Rafael Nadal vs. Lukas Lacko (00:00 GMT)

Rafael Nadal (credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal takes on Lukas Lacko on Friday in the third round of the 2012 Australian Open.

Despite wearing a strapping the size of Melbourne on his left knee, Nadal has looked comfortable in his first two matches, progressing to round three on Wednesday with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 win over former world number two Tommy Haas without ever really needing to hit top gear.

The Spaniard made a blistering start, racing out to a 5-1 lead, and although Haas almost pulled it back to 5-5, there was never any sense that Nadal was in danger of losing.

"I started match playing fantastic, especially the first seven games," said the world No. 2.

"I think he played well. He played aggressive. He played with very good second serves. For moments, his first serve was really difficult to read. I think he played well.

"You cannot expect win easy against [anybody], and especially against Tommy Haas.  He's a fantastic player."

Lacko's had a bit of a yo-yo career so far, reaching a career high of 60 two years ago but then dropping back outside the top 100. He's a very skillful player and Nadal certainly knows what he's capable of as theymet in Doha last year, where Lacko bagelled him before losing 7-6 0-6 6-3.

Lacko has the shots, but it's the mental side of the game which has held him back so far. However he's shown impressive resilience so far this week, seeing off veteran Ivan Ljubicic 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 and then ousting Donald Young in four sets.

However, he'll be playing Nadal right in the heat of the day and it wouldn't be a surprise if the scoreline is similar to when they played at the 2010 Australian Open, when Nadal won 6-2 6-2 6-2.

Prediction: Nadal in three.

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Australian Open 2012 - Rafael Nadal vs. Lukas Lacko (00:00 GMT)

Rafael Nadal takes on Lukas Lacko on Friday in the third round of the 2012 Australian Open.

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