Melbourne:World number one Rafael Nadal sent out an chilling warning to his rivals when he blew Belgium's Christophe Rochus off court 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Spaniard was in devastating form, serving 10 aces and blasting 44 winners in a virtuoso display of power and precision as he kick-started his bid for a first Australian title.
Rochus was almost reduced to a spectator at times as Nadal's ground stokes either landed deep in the corner or hugged the sidelines.
When the Belgian tried something different and came forward to the net, Nadal's passing shots whistled by, leaving Rochus either stranded on the service line or lunging at thin air.
"Yes, well, I played well, especially the serve and the forehand," Nadal said.
"I am concentrating well and serving very well, I think. "And with the forehand, I am moving the ball around the court very well. I played well, especially my serve and forehand."
Nadal, a four-time French Open champion, said he had been working on his serve in the off-season and that had paid off, but he acknowledged he had not been put under any pressure. "Well, you know, sometimes it's good, sometimes a little bit worse," he said about his serving.
"Today it was good. The important thing is try to serve like this when the pressure is on.
"So that's the thing I have to continue to work on."
Nadal broke Rochus three times in the first set and barely conceded a point off his own serve as he won the set 6-0 in only 19 minutes.
Rochus finally got on the scoreboard in the ninth game of the match, but with his first serves hovering just below 180kmh and his second serves barely passing 130kmh, every service game was a struggle.
The second set lasted just 10 minutes longer than the first but at least Rochus began to get into the match. However, Nadal was never in danger and he broke Rochus another two times in the third to take the match in a lightning quick 77 minutes.
"The sport is like this," Nadal said. "Today I played well. Maybe he didn't play one of his best matches, but tennis is always difficult because if you are not playing all the time at one hundred percent ... if I had made some mistakes, he could have come back at me and anything could happen."
Nadal, who took over from Roger Federer as world number one last year, said he felt little different coming to the year's first Grand Slam as the world's best player. "I feel the same - I am just trying to play my best tennis," he said.
"All that's changed is a number." He added that he had been happy being number two and now he was just as pleased being in the top spot.
"But in tennis your career continues - you can't just stop (because you're number one)," he said.