The Spaniard won convincingly in three sets
The top seed didn’t have the best of starts at Roland Garros, sneaking just past lucky loser Simone Bolelli in the first round, but was back to his best he won 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
The 31-year-old will next face home favourite and his old junior rival Richard Gasquet, whom he has beaten 15 times from as many meetings in professional tennis.
“I’m very happy, I played more aggressive than in the first round, so I’m very happy with that,” said Nadal.
“Richard (Gasquet) is a very good friend. We’ve known each other since we were 11 or 12 years old so it will be very special to play again against him on such an important court (Philippe Chatrier) for my career.”
Making a rare appearance on the secondary Court Suzanne Lenglen, Nadal was almost caught cold in the very first game as he was forced to save four break points, but he quickly found his groove and broke for a 4-2 lead.
World number 78 Pella did his best to resist the great Spaniard, saving four set points, but hit a forehand into the net on the fifth.
The rest of the match was totally one-sided, as the 16-time Grand Slam champion finished with 24 forehand winners against an outclassed opponent.