World number one Rafael Nadal overcame a strong challenge from gutsy Nick Kyrgios in four sets to reach the quarterfinals in the ongoing Australian Open 2020 on Monday. Keeping his quest alive for the record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title, the Spaniard defeated local boy Kyrgious in gruelling four sets 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Courtesy this hard-fought victory, the 33-year-old has booked a place in the quarterfinals of Grand Slam tournament for the 41st time in his career. Nadal will next play fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem, who has defeated Gael Monfils in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in his career.
The win allowed Nadal to join Jimmy Connors in third place on the all-time list of Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances, behind only Roger Federer (57) and Novak Djokovic (46).
In the fourth set, Nadal was broken by Kyrgios while serving for the match. He was unable to convert two breakpoints in the next game but quickly regrouped himself to clinch the all-important tiebreaker to seal the contest.
The matchup between Nadal and Kyrgios was one of the ‘highly-awaited’ contest of the opening Slam of the season. Bubbling animosity has characterised relations between the two stars.
Earlier, Nadal had accused ‘fiery’ Kyrgios of lacking respect and the latter fired back that the Spaniard was “super salty”. Before the round four clash in AO 2020, the 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was leading their career head-to-head 4-3 against Kyrgios.
Speaking after the match, the US Open champion spoke about his opponent and rated him as one of the ‘highest talents’ on the ATP circuit. “Well, what can I say about Nick? When he is playing today with his positive attitude, he brings a lot of positive things to our sport. So I encourage him to keep working like this because he is one of the highest talents that we have on our tour and I like the Nick Kyrgios during the whole of this tournament,” the Spaniard said.
In another other men’s singles match, Germany’s Alexander Zverev ended the hot streak oF Russian Andrey Rublev to book a spot in the last eight of Australian Open for the first time. The seventh seed broke once in each set for a clinical 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win in just 1hr 37mins to go into a match-up with Stan Wawrinka, the powerful Swiss who beat Russia’s, Daniil Medvedev.
Zverev retains his 100 per cent record over Rublev, who came into the match on a 15-match winning run including titles in Doha and Adelaide earlier this month.