Angelique Kerber runs for her life to overcome Hsieh Su-Wei and set-up Madison Keys quarter-final

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Hear her roar: Angelique Kerber in beast mode.

Angelique Kerber’s comeback victory over Hsieh Su-Wei in the Australian Open fourth round on Monday resembled an Olympic distance running race and the German is thrilled she crossed the finish line first.

The 32-year-old Hsieh looked like she was on her way to taking down another huge scalp in Melbourne, following her defeats of Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska earlier this fortnight, when she led Kerber by a set and was sending her across every inch of the court in a fierce battle.

In 2017, Kerber would have perhaps folded and lost that match in two. But as the German continues to remind us, this is 2018 and she has no intention of giving up. The ex-world No. 1 dug deep to complete a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 success over the ever-tricky Hsieh and set-up a mouthwatering quarter-final against American Madison Keys.

“I think that was the key at the end that I really could run forever, and I was feeling that I was running from the first point until the last point. A lot of metres, actually,” said Kerber, a champion in Melbourne in 2016.

“I think she played amazing match and it’s always tricky to play against her. I’m really happy about how I was able to change the match and turn around and playing, then, good tennis again in important moments, especially in the third set.”

The Taiwanese Hsieh blasted 42 winners, pulling off creative shots that would have stumped anyone on court on Monday.

She calls it Su-Wei style.

“I don’t have a plan. Actually, my boyfriend was looking her game earlier this morning. I forgot to ask him what she play, so, I actually have no plan to go on the court. So I was try to still going my Su-Wei style, you know,” said the world No. 88, who plays double-handed on both sides.

“I call like to play freestyle. Like today I go on the court. If I don’t have a plan, then I do whatever I can. When the ball come, I decide at the last moment where to hit, so sometime the girls say, oh, I don’t know where she hit. But sometimes I don’t know where I hit, too,” she added with a smile.

Kerber is currently riding a nine-match winning streak — 13 if you count her singles wins from Hopman Cup in opening week. After a sensational 2016 that saw her win two majors, the 29-year-old suffered a breakdown in form last season, slipping from No. 1 to No. 22 in the world in 2017.

But a new and improved Kerber has appeared this season and she’s happy to put 2017 behind her.

“My expectations are always now to play every single match my best. I am not looking too much ahead,” said Kerber.

“I just try to play like 2016 a little bit, like not doing too many things to complicate it. Not thinking too much about everything. Just going there, doing my job, loving what I’m doing, and that’s it. I mean, I have a great time on and off court. And I enjoy Australia. So, yeah, I’m not thinking about expectation anymore, no.”

She may not be piling the expectations on herself but she knows what to expect from her quarter-final opponent, Keys, who eased past eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia on Monday 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes.

Keys, a runner-up at the US Open last September, has been in brutal form this fortnight and will bring her power game to Kerber in their blockbuster showdown.

“I think she’s always tough to play. She obviously is a great tennis player. She’s been No. 1 in the world and won Slams,” Keys said of Kerber, who leads their head-to-head 6-1.

“I think she has an ability to cover the court and anticipate like really no one else does, so for me it’s having to play aggressive but also consistently aggressive, because I know she’s going to make three more balls than other girls may be able to get to.

“So it’s not feeling rushed and that I have to go for something crazy big on the first one and just really work the point.”

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Nick Kyrgios finds his purpose, Carla Suarez Navarro is hero of the day - Diary

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Following his close 7-6 (3), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4) defeat to Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open fourth round on Sunday, Nick Kyrgios was told that American legend John McEnroe said that was the most he’d ever seen him fight in a match.

“I mean, can’t argue with that,” Kyrgios said with a smile.

The 22-year-old Kyrgios is used to hearing criticism from McEnroe, who has never been easy on him when he’s commentating any of his matches. But it seems Kyrgios has managed to sway the opinion of one of his harshest sceptics and of course, the young Aussie is happy to take the compliment.

Although he lost on Sunday, Kyrgios can walk away from Melbourne proud of his Australian summer. He started 2018 by winning seven matches in a row, four on his way to the Brisbane title, and three at Melbourne Park this fortnight.

He went down fighting against Dimitrov and generally exhibited a much improved attitude throughout the month Down Under. He maintained his focus during the matches, and the most telling part was how he dealt with his frustrations.

In his thriller with Dimitrov, he netted a simple overhead smash to get broken and give the Bulgarian the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set. Instead of losing the plot, he broke back and took the set to a tiebreak.

From a physical standpoint, Kyrgios also appears to be taking care of his body better than in the past. Despite a knee problem that bothered him since Brisbane, he managed to be competitive through all his matches and said he was prepared to play a fifth set against Dimitrov if he had succeeded in taking that fourth-set tiebreak.

“I feel confident. You know, I still feel confident after losing that match,” said Kyrgios on Sunday. “I feel like I have more of a vision and goal for this year. I think I’m in a good head space.”

He finally looks and sounds like a talented individual with a purpose.

He’s still not keen on hiring a coach though.

“I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he was thinking of bringing someone on board. “You know, I feel like I have lost one match this year, so I’m doing alright.”

For Kyrgios, it’s more about progress rather than an all-out transformation. He’s still doing things his way. You wonder that if he doesn’t, he wouldn’t be able to dazzle on the court the way he does.

Before his fourth round on Sunday, Kyrgios was reportedly hitting some balls with a cancer patient – something he apparently has been doing all week in Melbourne. That’s hardly how other players would choose to prepare for a huge match but again, he likes doing things his way, and he’s finding motivation and peace in reaching out to others.

“I just do my thing. I play the game and I play the game the way I want it to be played. I don’t follow, I don’t really idolise anything or follow anyone. I just do my own thing,” is how Kyrgios signed off from Melbourne on Sunday.

Next up for him his Davis Cup, where he feels at home with his Aussie crew. The real test will come after that. Finding the fire to keep going all season. Something tells me it won’t be a problem for him this year.

HERO OF THE DAY

Carla Suarez Navarro looked like she was ready to pack her bags and leave Melbourne when she trailed an on-fire Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 1-4 in the fourth round on Sunday. But the Spaniard pegged her opponent back and ended up winning 8-6 in the third set to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for a third time.

STATS OF THE DAY

1 – Elina Svitolina is the first Ukrainian woman to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

6 – Following his victory over Kyrgios, Dimitrov is now 6-2 win-loss against players at their home Grand Slams.

8 – Grand Slam quarter-finals Marin Cilic has reached in his last 16 Grand Slams.

10 – Australian Open quarter-finals reached by Rafael Nadal, which puts him joint-second with Stefan Edberg on the Open Era list of most last-eight appearances in Melbourne.

QUOTES OF THE DAY

“He’s extremely, extremely talented, if not the most talented player out there… I love competing against him. I know it’s frustrating at times, very frustrating, but in the same time, you know, it’s for the love of the game, and I love the game.”

— Dimitrov on Kyrgios.

“I just told him to believe in himself. Sometimes I think he lacks a bit of belief. But I think he’s got the game and he’s proved to everyone that he can win one of these Slams. So I just told him to believe himself and hopefully he can go all the way.”

— Kyrgios on what he told Dimitrov at the net.

“I think he’s really aggressive every time. He can play four hours aggressive. He can play four hours really, really intensive. Is not easy for me. For example, in the court four hours, trying to run every point, trying to do winners every point, is not easy to be focused four hours against him. He can do easy. And I think that is the best thing from him.”

— Diego Schwartzman on the challenge of taking on Nadal.

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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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