The back is better, the confidence increases, and all this is reflected in the game: Rafael Nadal showed his “best level” since the start of the tournament on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open without hesitation.
At the same time, with no margin for surprise either, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev sealed their tickets for their first quarter-finals in Australia, where they will star in a 100% Russian duel.
While in the men’s team the Russians are noted, in the women’s team the presence of three American tennis players in the quarterfinals stands out, two of whom – Jessica Pegula and Jennifer Brady – will face each other for a place in the semifinals.
– Nadal in shape –
After two weeks without playing, two first matches between cottons, and a third with greater ease, Nadal can congratulate himself for having reached the quarterfinals, but above all for having recovered at this stage of the tournament a physical state according to his ambitions.
The world number 2 beat Italian Fabio Fognini (17th) 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2, and will face Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (sixth seed) in the quarterfinals.
The Spanish tennis player has not yet lost any set in this tournament and with this result reaches his 43rd quarter-final in a Grand Slam.
Nadal, who has 20 “big” titles under his belt – the same as Roger Federer of Switzerland – has already won the Australian Open once, in 2009.
“I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals, it’s a good start,” said Nadal, who is seeking his 21st Grand Slam title, a record unmatched in the history of men’s tennis.
“When you play in the second round against a great player like Fabio, you always have to fight,” added Nadal.
The Spanish tennis player quickly dominated the first set, going 3-0 up. Although the Italian reacted and recovered a lost service, he finally fell in that first set (6-3) after 46 minutes of play.
In the second set, Fognini broke the Spaniard’s serve and took the lead 4-2. After a tough fight, Nadal recovered the lost service, and took the second set after winning four consecutive games (6-4).
In the third, the world number two accelerated the cadence and prevailed (6-2) against an opponent who already offered less resistance, at the end of a game of two hours and 15 minutes.
His opponent in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Tsitsipas, will face that duel with a little more rest after he did not have to play his round of 16 duel on Monday against Italian Matteo Berrettini (10th in the world), injured in the abs in the previous round.
– Russian and American duels –
World number 4 Daniil Medvedev also qualified for his first quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Monday by defeating American Mackenzie McDonald in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
The Russian, who has just turned 25, will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev (8th), who defeated Norwegian Casper Ruud (28th), who resigned after losing two sets (6-2, 7-6).
Between 2020 and 2021, Medvedev, winner of the Paris Masters 1000 and the end of the year Masters, and after the ATP Cup with Russia, has 18 consecutive victories.
“I always want more, of course,” said the 2019 US Open finalist.
In the women’s draw, Australian Ashleigh Barty, world No. 1, qualified for the quarterfinals after beating the American Shelby Rogers (57th) 6-3, 6-4 with authority, and will face Czech Karolina Muchova (27th) for a place in the semifinals.
“It’s great to be back in the quarterfinals. If they had told me a few months ago I would have greeted them with a huge smile,” Barty said.
Muchova, for her part, eliminated Belgian Elise Mertens (16th) 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.
They also qualified for the quarterfinals Jessica Pegula (61st world) and Jennifer Brady (24th), two tennis players who will be measured for a place in the semifinals in a 100% American duel.
Pegula, 26, defeated No. 5 Elina Svitolina in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Brady (24th) beat Croatian Donna Vekic (33rd), who was suffering from pain in her right knee, in straight sets 6-1, 7-5.
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