Nadal survives Zverev scare in Australian Open
SPANISH superstar Rafael Nadal survived a marathon third-round battle against Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open tennis tournament, prevailing with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 win here on Saturday.
“It’s obviously an important result for me,” Nadal was quoted as saying by atpworldtour.com after his win in Rod Laver Arena.
“So it’s important for me to win a match like this, having been down two sets to one. I’m very happy.”
A single break of serve was all that was needed in each of the first two sets. Neither player faced a break point in the third set, ultimately forcing a critical tie-break.
Nadal’s forehand error gave the German an opportunity in the third set tie-breaker, which he took full advantage of by hitting a backhand winner on set point to earn a commanding lead.
But the 14-time Grand Slam winner refused to go away. He raced out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth set and appeared to finally wear down Zverev with the long baseline rallies that were the highlights of the match.
The young German hit 12 winners to 16 unforced errors in the fourth set while Nadal held onto the lead to force a deciding set.
The final stages of the match ultimately came down to fitness, with Zverev appearing to cramp at 2-2 in the fifth set.
Sensing his opportunity, the ninth seed sprinted through the final four games of the match to prevail in four hours and five minutes. “It was a tough match,” reflected Nadal. “He’s a player that has an amazing potential. He is able to produce great shots. He’s already one of the best players in the world. He can be even better. He can be fighting for the most important things. So I think he will do it.
“For the confidence, for lot of things, it is very important to win these kind of matches. I worked a lot during all of December to have the chances to compete well in these kind of moments. Even if I started the match with some nerves, I think I was able to came back well.
Nadal will next face sixth seed Gael Monfils, who recorded a 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in under two hours.
Serena eases past Gibbs
SECOND-SEEDED Serena Williams of the United States overcame her compatriot Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open tennis tournament here on Saturday.
Serena hit 17 winners against the world No.92 to advance to the second week of the tournament, which she has won six times.
She will face 16th seed Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, who defeated France’s Caroline Garcia in straight sets in an hour and 28 minutes.
Raonic fights fever, downs Simon MILOS Raonic’s machine-like advance through the Australian Open hit a brief glitch against Gilles Simon but the Canadian re-booted to delete the dogged Frenchman 6-2, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 and reach the fourth round on Saturday.
The third seed, who revealed he has been suffering from a “bad fever”, lost his first set of the tournament against the indefatigable Simon, whose hard running and sublime passing shots threatened to turn the game on its head.
The big-serving Canadian drowned out the Gallic cheers by capturing the decisive break in the sixth game of the fourth set and sealed the match with a big kicking serve to set up a clash with Spanish 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut. “I’ve had a rough last 48 hours, everything was aching, just sort of those kind of symptoms,” said Raonic.
“I’m managing it. I’m sure I’ll probably get something after today’s match.”
No quitting for Lucic-Baroni
MIRJANA Lucic-Baroni waited 19 long years before recording her second victory at the Australian Open earlier this week and on Saturday clinched her fourth by beating Greek Maria Sakkari 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to move into the last 16 for the first time.
The Croatian was one of the hottest properties in tennis as a teenager before the personal turmoil of her upbringing caught up with her and she was forced to start all over again in 2008.