Nadal, seeded a humble six this year – his lowest for a decade – needed just one hour and 50 minutes to record his 67th career win at Roland Garros, suffering just one defeat against Robin Soderling six years ago.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, who is seeded to meet world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals before a potential last four match-up with??Britain’s Andy Murray, came into the tournament without a European clay-court title for the first time since 2005 and with many in the sport writing him off as a spent force.
But in a cheeky riposte to his critics, the 14-time major winner played with the number ‘9’ stitched into the heels of his tennis shoes to remind people of his astonishing record at the tournament.
Nadal was not troubled by Halys, who was making his Grand Slam debut and playing just his second tour-level match,??unleashing a number of signature forehands and looked physically??at ease throughout.
The 19-year-old Frenchman did retrieve an early break in the sixth game of the first set before Nadal reasserted his dominance to take the opener 6-3.
And that was about as good as it got for Halys who ended the tie on Court Philippe Chatrier being broken five times and making 52 unforced errors.
Nadal, a winner on clay in Buenos Aires earlier this year, edged ahead again in the second set for a decisive 4-2 lead while another break for 3-2 in the third proved enough.
Nadal goes on to face either compatriot Nicolas Almagro or Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov for a place in the last 32.
“Quentin is the future, the new style of game he has, trying to hit winners??from everywhere – that is the way tennis is moving now,” Nadal said.
“Playing at Roland Garros and on centre court for the first time is not easy,??so I wish him all the best.”