Australian Open: Rafael Nadal wins 'great' battle to enter quarterfinals
World No. 1 sees off pocket-rocket Argentine Diego Schwartzman to enter Oz Open quarters
Spain's Rafael Nadal executes a backhand return to Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their fourth round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AP, PTI
Rafael Nadal battled through a huge test to make his 10th Australian Open quarter-final yesterday as Grigor Dimitrov ousted Nick Kyrgios to join him into full gear. On an overcast and muggy day at Melbourne Park, the Spanish World No 1 was up against his most dangerous opponent yet in pocket rocket Diego Schwartzman, one of the smallest men on tour.
The Argentine 24th seed endeared with his astonishingly powerful groundstrokes before Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 in almost four hours on Rod Laver Arena. It kept alive his push for a 17th Grand Slam title and also ensured he will remain number one when the new rankings come out after the tournament. "It was a great battle," said Nadal, who is chasing his second Melbourne title after beating Roger Federer in the 2009 final. "Of course, I feel little bit tired, but I was able to keep fighting until the end."
He will play sixth seed Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the Croat beat Spanish 10th seed Pablo Correna Busta 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/3). The win was Cilic's 100th at a Grand Slam. "I have played great tennis from the first round against tough opponents and now I am really looking to the next match, it will be definitely be a big challenge," he said of the Nadal clash.
Nick succumbs to Dimitrov
Ordinarily Nadal, as the top seed, would have top billing on Rod Laver in the evening, but not with local star Kyrgios in action. The maturing Australian 22-year-old pushed World No. 3 Dimitrov close in a hugely entertaining four-setter before succumbing 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4). "Playing Nick is always tricky," said the Bulgarian, as he targets bettering the semi-finals he made last year. "It was one of those matches you had to take any opportunity that you got."
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