Too easy for Nadal
Rafa Nadal swapped clay for grass on Wednesday but the result was just as emphatic with the world number one overpowering Australia's Matthew Ebden at the Queen's Club championships on a chilly evening in west London.
The reigning Wimbledon champion, fresh from his record-equalling sixth French Open title, beat gallant qualifier Ebden 6-4, 6-4 to move into the third round after Britain's Andy Murray, the second seed, won a three-setter with Xavier Malisse.
Top seed Nadal, who passed the time with some table football in the players' lounge as rain delayed his opening singles match, unleashed some trademark forehand firepower on the 168th-ranked Ebden who provided an ideal test.
Image: Rafa Nadal reacts after winning his match against Matthew Ebden at the Queen's Club championships
'It's never easy to start the grasscourt season'
"It's never easy to start the grasscourt season but I'm here with a lot of motivation," the 25-year-old Nadal said courtside after being mobbed for his autograph at the exclusive club.
"Everything is different and especially because I had just one day to adapt my game. I'm a bit tired after a very difficult claycourt season but I'm happy to be in the next round," added the Spaniard who next plays Czech Radek Stepanek.
Just five days after losing to Nadal in the French Open semi-finals on clay, Britain's world number four Murray made a stuttering start, beating Belgian Malisse 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in a match played in two chunks either side of a lengthy rain break.
Image: Rafa Nadal takes a break during a practice session
Second seed Murray, the 2009 champion at the most traditional of English venues, lost his way at the end of the second set but hit back to reach the third round.
With Wimbledon looming, the 24-year-old Scot showed no obvious signs of discomfort from the right ankle he rolled painfully in his third round win at the French Open against Germany's Michael Berrer -- good news when you carry the weight of British hopes on your shoulders.
"That was really the first true test on the grass to put it through," Murray told reporters in a news conference that sounded more like a physiotherapy lecture as the Scot was quizzed on the small tear in one of his tendons.
"It's a tough one because there's little time between now and Wimbledon (starting on June 20)," he said. "If this tournament was irrelevant then I wouldn't be playing. The fact is I'm here trying to play as many matches as possible.
"It's getting better, but it's still sore," he added.
Croatia's Marin Cilic, the eighth seed, wasted no time against French qualifier Arnaud Clement, winning 6-4, 6-4 before the showers arrived, while big-serving South African Kevin Anderson eased past American Donald Young 6-2, 6-4.
Image: Andy Murray touches his ankle during a break in the match against Xavier Malisse of Belgium at the Queen's Club Championships
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro also reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Russia's Igor Kunitsyn and was joined there by Argentine compatriot David Nalbandian who saw off Serbia's Ilija Bozoljac by the same margin.
There was not a spare seat when Nadal took to the court at tea time, such is the Spaniard's appeal, and he treated the crowd to a few fireworks in a contest that was always going to end one way after he broke qualifier Ebden's first service game.
It was not so comfortable for Murray, however.
He raced into a 3-0 lead but his progress was slowed by a downpour that sent fans scuttling off to the Pimms stands dotted around the grounds and when action resumed Malisse played his part in some eye-catching rallies.
Image: Juan del Potro returns during a practice match at the Queen's Club Championships
Murray faces Tipsarevic in the third round
Murray survived two break points immediately after the restart before closing out the first set from the baseline.
He seemed poised for a straight-sets win when he had three break points at 5-5 in the second set but Malisse survived and then capitalised on some loose Murray forehands in the next game to take the match into a decider.
With dark clouds hovering, Murray broke the Malisse serve in the third game of the second set thanks to a wayward forehand from the pony-tailed Belgian and sealed victory when his opponent dribbled a sliced backhand into the net.
Murray faces Serbian Janko Tipsarevic in the third round.
Image: Andy Murray returns during his practice match against Xavier Mallise at Queens club championships