Nadal, chasing a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title, cruised to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta on Rod Laver Arena in a crisp one hour, 38 minutes to reach the second week of a major for the 48th time (third in the Open Era behind Roger Federer, 68, and Novak Djokovic, 50).
“It’s my best match of the tournament without a doubt,” Nadal said. “I’m very happy to be in the fourth round.
“Today I did very well with my serve and started to hit some good forehands down the line, which is a key shot for me.”
Nadal broke the opening service games of the 27th seed in the first and second sets and again in the fifth game of the third set. He won 87 per cent of first-serve points, 78 per cent of second-serve points and did not face a break point in the match.
He also clubbed double the winners of his opponent (42 to 21) while making just seven unforced errors.
The 2009 Australian Open champion extended his ATP Head2Head against his countryman to 5-0 and his winning streak against fellow Spaniards to 18 matches.
The 33-year-old, now just 16 match wins away from achieving 1000 tour-level victories in his career, is looking to become the first man in the Open Era – and only the third man in history (Rod Laver and Roy Emerson) to win each major twice.
Nadal is guaranteed to remain at No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings if he reaches the semi-finals at Melbourne Park. He next faces the winner of Kyrgios and 6′ 6″ Russian Karen Khachanov, who play from 6.50pm on Melbourne Arena.