Australian Open: Fit Rafael Nadal hits Sela out of Melbourne Park
Melbourne: Rafael Nadal put his health issues behind him to overcome Israeli Dudi Sela and advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open yesterday.
Rafael Nadal celebrates his win over Dudi Sela. Pic/Getty Images.
The Spaniard, who struggled with stomach cramps and dizzy spells in his five-set second-round win over American Tim Smyczek, showed none of the symptoms as he beat Sela 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 in 2hr 4min on Rod Laver Arena.
The World No 3 will take on South Africa’s big-serving Kevin Anderson in the Last 16. The 2009 champion, who lost in last year’s final to Stan Wawrinka, has now reached the Round of 16 at the year’s first Grand Slam for the ninth time. Nadal no longer has 17-time Grand Slam champion and great rival Roger Federer in his bottom half of the draw after the Swiss World No 2 was upset by Italian Andreas Seppi earlier yesterday.
“In general I think I was playing better than I did the other day, I was feeling better tonight,” Nadal said. “I changed direction better and my forehand and serving was better. Dudi had some chances in the third set and I was a bit lucky at the end of that third set. The other night was one of the toughest times I have spent on the court and my body wasn’t very well and I felt very lucky to get through. I thought I was going to have to take the plane back to Majorca.”
Normal service was resumed for Nadal against Sela with 43 winners and 25 errors, while breaking the Israeli’s service seven times from 18 break point opportunities and not having his own serve
The 14-time Grand Slam winner played only seven matches since Wimbledon last July due to ongoing back and wrist injuries and an appendectomy.
His lack of match fitness was apparent in Qatar earlier this month when he was humiliated in the first round by Michael Berrer, a qualifier ranked outside the top 100. But he is still alive at the Australian Open.
Seven: Number of matches Rafael Nadal has played since last year’s Wimbledon due to back, wrist injuries and an appendectomy
43: Number of winners Rafael Nadal hit against his Israeli opponent Dudi Sela during their third round encounter yesterday