Nadal's champion gesture for vanquished rival

Rafael Nadal has endeared himself even more to the Melbourne Park faithful courtesy of a brilliant gesture towards beaten opponent, Leonardo Mayer.

Nadal powered through to the round of 32 at the Australian Open on Wednesday evening after downing the Argentinean in straight sets.

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The 2009 champion again looked untroubled on Wednesday by his recent knee issues, claiming a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory in two hours and 38 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Mayer was given a standing ovation from the crowd after the match, having forced the World No.1 to play some of his best tennis in a pulsating second round encounter.

Nadal once again showing what a champion he is. Pic: Ch7/Getty

Then in a rarely seen act of sportsmanship, Nadal chimed in by joining the fans in applauding the Argentinean as he trudged off the court.

It was a delightful moment that had commentators in awe and proved once again that the Spaniard is one of the nicest guys in tennis.

Nadal will face Bosnian No.28 seed Damir Dzumhur - who earlier edged out local favourite John Millman - in Friday's third round.

After dropping just three games in his first-round defeat of Dominican Estrella Burgos, Nadal was forced to dig deeper in his fifth career meeting with Mayer.

The 16-time grand slam winner had his serve broken at 5-4 and was forced to a tiebreaker in a third set which lasted 69 minutes.

An animated Nadal leapt into the air and pumped his fist with delight after sending a searing forehand winner down the line to go up 4-2 before serving out the match.

The Spaniard racked up 40 winners and just 10 unforced errors compared to 33 for his opponent.

"It's an important victory for me," Nadal said.

"He was a tough opponent. Leonardo is a player with big potential - he hits the ball so strong. I had to hit some great shots in the tiebreak.

"Happy to be in the third round of course .... second victory in a row, it's very important news for me."