Spaniard Rafael Nadal maintained his composure and limited his game plan to a variety of more traditional shots in an entertaining 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) win over him on Monday. crowd favorite Nick Kyrgios, to advance to the Australian Open quarter-finals and take another step toward a record 20 Grand Slam titles.
These rivals don’t like each other. But Nadal only had praise for the 24-year-old Australian after improving his record for games between them to 5-3.
“When he wants to play, when he’s focused on what he’s doing, I think he’s a very important player for our sport,” said Nadal, currently number one in the world rankings. “Since he has enormous talent and he is one of those players who can be very, very interesting for the public.”
While Kyrgios did pull off some of his usual fancy shots and eccentricities, what he never did was give up, something he has been accused of doing.
“Today I think he played with total seriousness, always giving his all,” said Nadal.
That certainly has a lot of value to Kyrgios.
“I feel devastated that I lost tonight. These are the games I want to win the most ”.
While Nadal seemed to find the formula to counter Kyrgios’ powerful style of play, a key aspect was that the Spaniard finished with more than twice as many winners as unforced errors, 64-27.
Kyrgios recorded 25 aces and some unforgettable moments _including arriving on the court and warming up for the duel wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with the number 8 in honor of Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star who He died Sunday in a helicopter crash at age 41.
On Wednesday, Nadal’s 41st Grand Slam quarterfinal matchup will be against Dominic Thiem, a rematch of the last two French Open finals – both won by the 33-year-old Spaniard.
After losing his second consecutive final to Nadal at Roland Garros last June, the Austrian and current fifth in the world did not win a game again at any 2019 Grand Slam. But now he has entered his first quarters at Melbourne Park.
The other clash in the quarterfinals of the men’s branch in the upper half of the key places Alexander Zverev, seventh racket in the world, and the Swiss Stan Wawrinka face to face.
Wawrinka rallied to defeat 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 against Russian Daniil Medvedev, runner-up at the US Open, and advance to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, where he won the 2014 championship.
“I don’t know how many, but I don’t have many years left,” Wawrinka said. “I want to make the most of them.”
Wawrinka is 34 and Medvedev 23. Wawrinka has only three Grand Slam titles and is now on his way to his 18th quarter-final.
The 15th-seeded Swiss will face Zverev, who for his part ended 17th-seeded Andrey Rublev’s 15-win streak by defeating him 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Tuesday’s quarterfinals will feature defending champion Novak Djokovic against 32nd Canadian Milos Raonic and Swiss Roger Federer against United States’ Tennys Sandgren.
In the women’s tournament there was also a rookie in the Australian quarterfinals: Estonian Anett Kontaveit, world number 28, who came back a set and a break against to defeat 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7- 5 to the Polish Iga Swiatek, barely 18 years old.
Kontaveit will now face Romanian Simona Halep, winner of two major and runner-up from Australia in 2018.
Fourth-seeded Halep defeated Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-4.
For her part, the Spanish-Venezuelan Garbiñe Muguruza, who also has two Grand Slam titles under her belt, eliminated the ninth seed, the Dutch Kiki Bertens, 6-3 and 6-3.
Muguruza conquered Roland Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017. For the first time since the French Open in 2014, she is playing a Grand Slam without being seeded.
Now she will face the Russian and 30th seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who gave the surprise by defeating the German Angelique Kerber (17) 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4). AFP