13-time Grand Slam champ sends Gael Monfils packing through 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory
Melbourne: World No one Rafael Nadal powered past Frenchman Gael Monfils to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in an impressive performance on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating France’s Gael Monfils. Pic/AFP
The 13-time Grand Slam champion was too strong for the 25th-seeded Monfils, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal will next face Japanese 16th seed Kei Nishikori in the fourth round. Nishikori earlier knocked out American Donald Young in straight sets.
The Spanish top seed is bidding to win his second Australian Open title and become only the third man to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice, after Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.
“No one is unstoppable. Tonight I think I played a great match,” Nadal said. “I’m very happy with the way that I played against a very tough opponent like Gael. So that makes the level that I played tonight better because was against tough opponent.
Nadal displays his taped fingers while adjusting his headband. Pic/Getty Images
A good player like Gael is always very difficult to play against. “(But it’s) just one very good day. That makes me feel confident, but I am in fourth round. That’s all.”
Nadal played his best match in the tournament and was relentless in breaking the flashy Frenchman’s service six times in a dynamic display. The Spaniard hit 21 winners and just 18 unforced errors, while Monfils made 57 unforced errors with his all-or-nothing shot-making.
It was Nadal’s 10th win in 12 encounters with Monfils to put him into the second week of the tournament. There was some concern early in the second set when Nadal was limping on his right foot after winning a rally, but he continued on in the match with no apparent discomfort.
Nadal is looking to win his 14th Grand Slam title and equal American Pete Sampras on the list of all-time Grand Slam title holders. He is currently third behind Roger Federer (17).
Fed, Murray win
Roger Federer and Andy Murray also hit top gear as the title race began to narrow. Federer was typically fluent in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win against Teymuraz Gabashvili and Murray, continuing his strong recovery from back surgery, was a convincing winner over Feliciano Lopez.
With sharply cooling temperatures bringing an abrupt end to four days of 40 Celsius, there was a businesslike feel as the men’s and women’s contenders set about reaching Week Two.
Federer said his Grand Slam struggles last year, when he fell early at Wimbledon and the US Open, were past him as he dismantled Russia’s Gabashvili.
Murray had a brief scare when he clutched his back in the first set but he moved unhindered thereafter to win 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-2 and move into the round of 16.
In the women’s draw, Victoria Azarenka destroyed hapless Austrian Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-0 to set up a rematch of last year’s semi-final with Sloane Stephens. Caroline Wozniacki took a tumble when she was shocked by the unheralded Garbine Muzuruga, 20, who extended her best ever Grand Slam run. Maria Sharapova beat France’s Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-6 (8/6).