Rafael Nadal laughed off the distraction of a spectator trying to put him off by reaching the third round of the Australian Open with a straight sets win over Michael Mmoh.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion never lost control of the match against the American qualifier in a 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory, setting up a meeting with Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
But he did have to deal with disruption at the end of the second set, when a woman in the crowd, who was eventually removed, was vocal in her criticism of Nadal’s on-court habits.
The Spaniard found the incident amusing, though, and was not put off his game.
Asked if he knew the woman in question in his post-match interview, he simply replied: “No, and honestly I don’t want to know!”
He then said in a separate interview: “Maybe she took too much gin or tequila. I don’t know. But honestly it was a strange situation, but, yeah, funny at the same time.
“You know, sometimes there is people for everything around the world. Somebody doing the finger to me… I don’t know the reason. I was surprised, yes, but at the same time was thinking, ‘Poor girl.’ Because probably she was drunk or something like this.”
Nadal broke in the fourth game of the match to open up a 3-1 lead and did not look back in the opening set, taking the next three games to race through the first set in 27 minutes.
The powerful Mmoh regained his serve at the start of the second, but Nadal once again moved in front in the fifth game before serving out for 6-4 – but not before the aforementioned spectator delayed proceedings.
Continuing the theme, Nadal got his third set break at a similar point, again breaking in the fifth game and then the seventh to serve out victory.
Speaking on court after the match, Nadal said of his performance: “I think tonight has been a positive evening for me winning in straight sets, great news.
“I wish Michael all the very best for the rest of the season, for me, just try to focus on trying to be ready for what’s coming, that’s going to be more difficult.
“I always have a lot of respect for every opponent, so yesterday on my day off I was watching some videos of him on YouTube trying to know a little bit more about him.”
Nadal has noticeably upped the potency of his backhand, and he admits it is something that he has to work on as he has got older.
“I have been improving my backhand during all my career, when I was younger I was able to run everywhere, now I need to have better shots on the backhand.
“It’s an important shot for me, when my backhand is working I’m able to play much better.”