Nadal, Dimitrov Battle Past Opponents to Reach Quarterfinals of Australian Open
(January 21, 2018) Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov had tough battles to get past opponents to reach the final eight of the Australian Open on Sunday.
No. 1 Rafael Nadal reached his 10th Australian Open quarterfinal, his 33rd major final eight overall defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 while No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria edged past No. 17 seed Nick Kyrgios from Australia 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4).
Dimitrov avenged a loss earlier on the month to Kyrgios in the semifinal of the Brisbane International
The win for the Nadal ensures that he will remain No. 1 after the tournament ends, regardless of the outcome.
It was a hard-fought battle against the Argentine which took nine minutes short of four hours on Sunday afternoon into early evening in Rod Laver Arena.
“You can’t expect easy matches when you’re playing in big tournament,” Nadal said to media. “Yeah, against good players.
“So, yeah. Yeah, was a tough match in general terms. I missed opportunities in the second. That’s the true. Three times break up in the second. Then you lose that many chances and you’re in trouble. But of course he played well, and he played aggressive. Yep, he did a lot of things well, and I didn’t play as aggressive as I did last couple of days. That’s why I was suffering more. Conditions out there were not easy this afternoon. Very humid.”
“Yeah. And was a tough match. But very happy to be through, of course.”
“Is always better winning in two hours than in four. But that’s it. It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure.
“So, yeah, a lot of positive things that I managed well. After the second set, it was a very tough moment. The third set was a great set to win, being honest. My serve start to work much better after the second. I started to win some free points again with the serve, because for a set and a half almost I didn’t win a free point with my serve. So that’s not good news during that part of the match. That’s why I lost that many chances, three times the opportunity to be break, to confirm the break, and I didn’t.
“Then in the third and fourth my serve started working better, and probably that’s why I am here with a victory.”
The 16-time major champion will play sixth-seeded Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals.
Marin Cilic advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second time with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) win over Pablo Carreno Busta on Margaret Court Arena.
“Should have won the first(set). I should have lost the third. I should have won quicker the fourth, said Cilic who served for the first set at 5-3.
“So it was up and down a lot. It was difficult match. First, the conditions today were a little bit more humid than all the other days before. And plus from the other side of the net, Pablo was playing really good, very solid, and served really good today, I would say, and backed it up with good groundstrokes from the back.
“He’s got a very solid game. He keeps the ball quite low, very solid off the backhand.
“It was not easy. But especially after losing that first set just being mentally there and knowing that, you know, physically it can go three, four hours. But I was staying in the moment and just trying to focus on what I have to do. It was obviously a little bit of a tricky situation as I was 5-2 up, lost that set. The things changed a little bit, and I had to get back to my plan, get back to what I was doing well, even he started to play better in that moment. He started to lift up his game.
For the 2014 US Open winner it will be his 11th major quarterfinal, equaling countryman Goran Ivanisevic for most appearances by a Croatian man in the final eight.
On facing Nadal next: “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.”
Cilic is 1-5 against Nadal.
No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki had her best performance on court so far this fortnight when she defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena in 63 minutes.
“I thought I played very well. I tried to stay aggressive,” said the winner. “I got a lot of returns back, which I think for her was obviously something that she felt pressure on after a little bit.”
Wozniacki came close to losing in the second round, saving match points and rallying from 1-5 down in the final set against Jana Fett.
The former No. 1 from Denmark has a chance to reach No. 1 again this tournament if she reaches the semifinals, along with some other results. She was last in the top spot in 2012. She is also one of the favorites to win the event. The Dane has yet to win a major tournament.
Wozniacki, who plays Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals discussed the matchup – “we’ve had a lot of tough encounters on hard courts as well. Three-set grueling matches.
“I’m expecting a tough fight. Obviously I think she had a tough season last year. She also had a few injuries. Obviously she’s back playing really well.
“I’m expecting a great fight and some really good tennis”
Carla Suarez Navarro was the first player through to the Australian Open quarterfinals after beating Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6. Kontaveit was serving for the match at 5-4 when the Spaniard rallied to take the match.
“I feel really good right now,” said the winner.” I mean, I’m really happy. Was two years ago, so I’m happy. Always when you reach the quarterfinals or the finals round, you must be happy.”
Asked about her match against Wozniacki she said: “Well, we play a lot of times together. I know how she play. I know how tough she is. Will be a really tough match. She’s fighting every ball, but at the same time she can play aggressive. She has a lot of experience on these rounds.
“It will be a really interesting match. For sure I have to be focused all the time and 100% for beat Caroline or the other one.”
Belgium’s Elise Mertens has now won nine matches in a row with a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Petra Martic. Mertens has reached her first Melbourne quarterfinal in her first main draw appearance down under.
Mertens will play fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina who beat qualifier Denisa Allertova 6-3, 6-0.
Kyle Edmund became the first British man other than Andy Murray to make the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 38 years when he defeated Andreas Seppi 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2 6-3.
“He got off to a good start,” Edmund said. “Yeah, tennis, sometimes you don’t win every point and don’t win all the games you want to. Some problem-solving.
“I thought he actually came out very well and timed the ball well, dictating probably more points than I was. Was probably doing a little bit more reactive stuff.
“Even I didn’t feel so much — still nice to get to the tiebreak. Yeah, it was close, I think it was 7-4.
“Then, yeah, it was really good to turn it around, basically. Just stuck in there. Scoreboard pressure. Break him at 6-5. After that really took control.”
More to follow…..