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Rafael Nadal rallies into last eight past Diego Schwartzman

22 January, 2018, 02:35 | Author: John Swanson
  • Roger Federer stretches for a volley against Richard Gasquet on Saturday
Credit
AFP

Marin Cilic of Croatia celebrates winning match point in his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. Nadal leads 5-1 in their previous meetings.

It was just the physical examination Nadal was looking for after coming into the year's opening Grand Slam without an official match following knee concerns.

Rod Laver Arena believed he could turn it around but Dimitrov piled the pressure on in the fourth set and eventually got his reward when Kyrgios netted a routine smash on break point at 3-4.

"It's just another match that I need to go through", Dimitrov said.

After impressing plenty of people with his run to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open last season, there was no danger of Nadal taking Schwartzman lightly here.

Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking after the Australian Open, with Federer breathing down his neck.

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"It was a good test for me".

Unseeded Kyle Edmund also advanced to the final eight with a four-set come-from-behind win.

"That's confidence knowing that I can resist nearly four hours on court playing at a good intensity".

"But I was able to keep fighting until the end. Hopefully next match I can do better still".

After a charmed run of 15 consecutive grand slam matches against players ranked outside the world's top 25, Cilic - runner-up to Roger Federer at Wimbledon a year ago - will be Nadal's first top-10 challenge at the majors since he beat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 French Open final. I started later than usual so a match like this probably helps because you know that helps confidence in myself.

Despite firing just four winners and committing nine unforced errors, Nadal managed to win the first set, saving four break points he faced while he seized one of three opportunities.

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Schwartzman made the top seed work for every point he won on Sunday.

The fourth set followed a similar pattern, with Schwartzman unable to get much going with the ball in hand, allowing Nadal to pounce with an early break.

He endeared the crowd with the scampering around the court and his astonishingly powerful groundstrokes for one so small in stature.

"Rafa played good points in those moments, playing aggressive".

The Taiwanese-British duo saved five of seven break points and converted two of seven, hitting 23 winners to set up a second-round clash today with Australian pairing Storm Sanders and Marc Polmans, who defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Robert Farah of Columbia 7-5, 1-6, 10-4.

Third time was indeed the charm for Nadal as his backhand return victor right to the corner gave Schwartzman no chance to get a ball back into play as the world number one gutted out a victory in almost four hours.

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