Rafael Nadal looking forward to 'beautiful match' against Marin Cilic, overcomes Diego Schwartzman in fourth round

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Rafael Nadal described his upcoming quarter-final against Marin Cilic as a “beautiful match” after he overcame Diego Schwartzman in a near-four-hour tussle in humid conditions at the Australian Open on Sunday.

Nadal posted a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 win over the tricky Argentine to reach his 10th quarter-final in Melbourne and move to second place alongside Stefan Edberg on the Open Era list of most appearances in the Australian Open last-eight. Only Roger Federer has reached more as the Swiss looks to make his 14th quarter-final when he takes on Marton Fucsovics in round four on Monday.

The victory also means Nadal will remain at No. 1 following the Australian Open, which would extend his reign at the top of the rankings to 166 weeks in total.

Nadal admits his clash with Schwartzman was the toughest he’s endured so far this year.

“Was a good test, and at the same time, I prefer to win in two hours than in four. But being honest, too, moments like this helps to be more confident in yourself, in your body,” said the 31-year-old.

“I resisted very well. Very happy. Very proud about the third and fourth set, because situation was not easy for me, and I was able to hold my serve all the time. Sometimes with saving tough moments.

“But I played with determination, and that’s what I gonna need, and I gonna need to serve well. I’m going to need to play with more determination with my forehand in the next match. I am focusing on trying to make it.”

Cilic, the No. 6 seed has been flying under the radar but has produced four strong victories en route to the quarter-finals, his latest a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) over 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday.

The Croatian has now made eight quarter-finals in his last 16 Grand Slams and is into the last-eight in Melbourne for the first time since 2010.

“Against Marin will be a tough one, but at the same time, is a beautiful match to play against a great player,” said Nadal, who leads their head-to-head 5-1.

Cilic’s win over Carreno Busta was gave him his 100th match victory at a Grand Slam.

The 29-year-old, who was a runner-up at Wimbledon last year, is pleased with his level despite some inconsistency over the four sets.

“Difficult. I should have won the first. I should have lost the third. I should have won quicker the fourth. So it was up and down a lot. It was difficult match,” said Cilic of his showdown with Spain’s Carreno Busta.

Looking ahead to his quarter-final against Nadal, Cilic said: “Throughout my career, I knew that if I’m playing well, if I’m top of my game, that I can challenge most of the guys on the tour and, you know, with the win at the US Open that, you know, I believe it just became stronger.

“I know I believe in my own game, I believe in what I’m doing. I think I’m moving the right direction. You know, it’s obviously a big challenge playing them, but that’s what we also work for on the trainings.”

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Caroline Wozniacki proud of her 'tweener' in straight-sets rout of Magdalena Rybarikova

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Caroline Wozniacki is not thinking about a first Grand Slam title, saying there’s still “a long way to go” after storming into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The world No. 2 handed out a tennis masterclass to 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 in 63 minutes of mesmerising shot-making on Rod Laver Arena.

Angelique Kerber is the only Grand Slam champion remaining in the draw meaning Wozniacki may never have a better chance to get off the mark.

But the Dane was in no mood to think about breaking her duck with an Australian Open title, nine years after making her first major final at the US Open.

“No,” she replied when asked by reporters if she could see her hands on the trophy yet. “I just play one match at a time.

“We’ve played four matches so far. There’s still three to go. There’s still a long way to go. So I really just focus on the task ahead of me.”

Wozniacki conceded an early break to go 1-2 down but then rattled off 11 of the next 12 games to complete a humiliating rout of the 19th seed.

“She really mixes up the pace, I just tried to calm down, get my returns in and wait for the opportunities to attack,” she said after a ruthless crushing of the Slovak.

“I think you can tell my confidence is pretty good at the moment.”

Rybarikova had a breakout year in 2017 as she reached her first Slam semi-final and got into the world’s top 20.

But she was given a tennis lesson by the Dane, who won 11 consecutive points to close out the first set and sprint into a 2-0 lead in the second.

A rampant Wozniacki even successfully attempted a rare “tweener” back between her legs to retrieve a lob.

“That’s the first time in a match. So if I may say so myself, I was pretty proud of that,” she said. “I’m admiring myself right there.

“I’m sorry. But you know, I’ve made a few tweeners in practice. But never in a match. And even in practice sometimes I make a fool out of myself. So when that went in I was like, OK, I’m done.”

Wozniacki has only dropped one set in the tournament but was perilously close to going out at 1-5, 15-40 in the third set to Jana Fett in their second round encounter.

“I think being almost out of the tournament, you have nothing to lose after that,” said Wozniacki, reflecting on saving two match points.

“I played really well from being down 5-1. Since then I’ve just kept that going basically.”

She will face the unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro from Spain for a place in the semi-finals and leads their head-to-head series 5-2, with both the Spaniard’s wins coming on clay.

“Obviously hard courts is a little different,” said Wozniacki. “But we’ve had a lot of tough encounters on hard courts as well. I’m expecting a great fight and some really good tennis.”


Suarez Navarro looked down and out in her fourth round against No. 32 seed Anett Kontaveit, who went up 6-4, 4-1 before the Spaniard struck back. Suarez Navarro, who was ranked No. 6 in the world two years ago before getting hampered by injuries ended up defeating the Estonian 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 in two hours and 17 minutes.

“I just tried to be more aggressive. I was thinking that I was playing good, but not too long, not too aggressive. I want to play like this, but sometimes you cannot,” said Suarez Navarro of what she changed to turn the match around.

” My team all the time they will say me, Play aggressive, play aggressive. That’s I think what I did.”

The 29-year-old will be featuring in her third Australian Open quarter-final (2009, 2016, 2018).

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Alexander Zverev's Grand Slam predicament continues, Djokovic says sport shouldn't be all about the money - Diary

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“I’m still young, so I got time.”

Those are key words from Alexander Zverev on Saturday, following his five-set defeat to Next Gen ATP Finals champion Chung Hyeon in the Australian Open third round.

The No. 4 seed became the highest ranked casualty in the men’s draw and he bowed out by consuming a fifth-set bagel from an on-fire Chung.

In 11 Grand Slam main draw appearances, the 20-year-old Zverev has made it past the third round just once, reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon last year. While the young German has enjoyed massive breakthroughs at ATP tournaments, winning two Masters 1000 events last year, by defeating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the finals, he has been unable to replicate that form and success at the majors and he is understandably stumped as to why that has been the case.

“I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slams,” a usually defiant Zverev conceded on Saturday. “It happened at Wimbledon. It happened in New York. It happened here.

“I’m still young, so I got time,” he added with a smile. “I definitely have some figuring out to do for myself.”

It’s often easy to forget how young Zverev is because he carries himself in a way that exudes confidence and seems unfazed by taking on the top guys. But a closer look tells a different story.

Zverev, understandably as a 20-year-old, still needs to mature in different areas. He is temperamental on the court but unlike some, who feed off that anger, it rarely pays off for Zverev.

He says things like: “I think I should have won in four sets.” Perhaps a better way to look at it is why he lost the plot in the fifth?

I often feel there is a lot of “should” in Zverev’s way of thinking. He thinks journalists “should” know every single word he’s ever said in press, he believes he should have done this or that… With maturity, he’ll gain a more open perspective.

The pressure he feels on his shoulders is, naturally, heightened at the Slams and the key is to figure out a way to deal with it better and learn how to navigate the best-of-five format in a more efficient manner, and work it to his advantage. He is very fit physically and he admitted his problem on Saturday was “definitely not physical”.

You get the sense Zverev finds it hard to switch to a different gear when things aren’t going his way in the Slams, even though he has the talent that allows him to dig deep into his reserves if he wants to.

He will no doubt learn from these tough Slam losses, and like he noted, he has plenty of time to figure things out. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for Team Zverev — he’s got a stellar pair in his corner with his father Alexander Sr. and ex-world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero both coaching him — who have to prepare him to defend lots of points this season.

This loss was by no means a catastrophe, and Zverev is too gifted to not perform well at the majors, but it will be interesting to follow his journey to that Slam success he seems destined to achieve.

HERO OF THE DAY

Simona Halep, on a dodgy ankle, overcame Lauren Davis in a three-hour 44-minute battle, 15-13 in the third, to make the fourth round. She saved three match points and served for the match four times. A win like this can do wonders to her confidence. Here’s hoping the ankle holds up so we get a great fourth round between her and Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

UPSET OF THE DAY

Chung‘s win over Zverev was his first against a top-10 opponent in his career, which earned him a maiden fourth round appearance at a major.

There is plenty to like about the 58th-ranked 21-year-old Chung. But his next opponent Novak Djokovic says it best: “I’m looking forward to the next challenge, you know. Hyeon Chung, who has beat Zverev today, a big win for him, someone that is very disciplined, one of the NextGens. He won in Milano last year. He’s playing great. He’s fit. He doesn’t have too many holes in his game. He’s very nice guy. You can see he’s a hard worker. It pays off.”

MATCH OF THE DAY

Hsieh Su-Wei’s clash with Agnieszka Radwanska was everything you’d expect it to be from two women who boast incredible shot creativity.

It was art. It was chess. It was Tai Chi!

Do yourself a favour and find a highlights reel for that masterpiece. Hsieh won 6-2, 7-5.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

“We should not forget that this is a sport. It’s not business. But it became business more than sport, unfortunately, because of an industry that we are part of and which gives us a great life in terms of financial compensations and what we get for the performances. Absolutely I’m grateful for that, but at the same time there has to be a balance between everything. I’m afraid that we are losing that balance a little bit today.”

— Novak Djokovic.

“It’s kind of silly, right? It feels kind of silly.”

— Tennys Sandgren on the fact that he has made the Australian Open fourth round.

“Some sleep, some chocolate, and actually hot chocolate I will have after.”

— Halep doesn’t want to think about tennis following her three-set epic. This is what she wants to think about.

“I am always happy if I’m not the drama.”

— Madison Keys happy to stay under the radar so far in Melbourne.

“I made a commitment to myself before this tournament that I’m going to be my own best friend and just my greatest supporter, and accept all that God has to give me.”

— Awesome perspective from Davis.

STATS OF THE DAY

3 – Chung is just the third Korean player to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam.

10 – times Tomas Berdych has made the fourth round at the Australian Open, the most by a Czech man, overtaking Ivan Lendl.

48 – games played in the match between Halep and Davis, which is equal most for a women’s match in Melbourne in the Open Era.

90 – match wins for Roger Federer at the Australian Open following his straight-sets triumph over Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.

DRAMA OF THE DAY

Radwanska had to involve the supervisor today during her match with Hsieh. A Hsieh ball was called out, Radwanska hit back the ball anyway. Umpire Tom Sweeney overruled and said it was in. Then somehow decided to give the point to Hsieh and not replay it. That meant Radwanska would fall behind 0-40 on her own serve.

Radwanska, who seldom gets angry on the court, was fuming as she argued with Sweeney that the point should be replayed because she hit the ball, and it wasn’t a clear winner from Hsieh. She immediately got the supervisor involved and Radwanska actually won the argument, with the supervisor overruling the umpire’s decision. She still got broken in that game to go down 0-2 in the second set but lesson learned: You don’t mess with the ninja!

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