Nadal outlasts Kyrgios to set up Australian Open quarter-final match vs. Thiem
2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza also advance
Rafael Nadal left the muttering and the preening, the underarm serving and the 'tweening, to his younger, flashier opponent, Nick Kyrgios.
Surely, Nadal was content to collect the win in the latest installment of their rivalry.
The No. 1-ranked Nadal kept his thoughts to himself and limited his shot-making to the more traditional variety in an entertaining 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) victory over home-crowd favourite Kyrgios on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals and get closer to a record-tying 20th Grand Slam title.
The 19-time major champion won the Australian Open in 2009 and has reached four finals here times since. He will next play fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem, who is into the quarter-finals in Australia for the first time.
"What can I say again about Nick? When he is playing like today, with this positive attitude, he gives a lot of positive things to our sport. So I encourage him to keep working like this," Nadal said. "Honestly, he is one of the highest talents that we have on our tour."
Here's how the elevated stakes and tension affected both men: At 5-all in the pivotal third-set tiebreaker, Kyrgios double-faulted. That offered up a gift-wrapped set point. But Nadal failed to take advantage because he double-faulted right back.
Still, two points later, the 23rd-seeded Kyrgios put a forehand into the net, and the set was Nadal's. Not long after, Kyrgios double-faulted again to get broken at love.
'A scary game'
That put Nadal ahead 2-1 in the fourth, seemingly in charge.
"Against Nick," Nadal would say afterward, "you are never [in] control."
"A scary game," Nadal called it.
But he regrouped and pulled the win out in the closing tiebreaker, which ended with Kyrgios putting a forehand into the net.
Nadal was just the better player overall. One measure: Nadal finished with more than twice as many winners, 64, as unforced errors, 27.
Kyrgios delivered 25 aces and some memorable moments, including walking out on court and warming up for the match in a No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers jersey to honour Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star who died in a helicopter crash Sunday at age 41.
A video tribute to Bryant was played on the Rod Laver Arena scoreboards before Monday's match.
Wawrinka overcomes Medvedev in 5-setter
As the fourth-set tiebreaker ended, Stan Wawrinka tapped his right temple with his index finger, his signature celebration. He probably figured he had his Australian Open opponent right where he wanted him.
Heading to a fifth set.
Wawrinka came back to beat U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park, where he won the 2014 championship.
This was the 2014 Australian Open champion's 51st career five-setter, which is tied for the sixth-most on record in men's tennis history, and his 29th such victory. The No. 4-seeded Medvedev, meanwhile? He is now 0-6 when going the distance.
The 15th-seeded Wawrinka will meet No. 7 Alexander Zverev, who ended Andrey Rublev's 15-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the Russian player at Melbourne Arena.
Rublev hadn't lost a match since October, having won four matches at the Davis Cup finals and winning titles in Doha and Adelaide to start this season.
18th major quarter-final for Wawrinka
It is the first Australian Open quarter-final for Zverev, and his third at a Grand Slam event.
Consider Wawrinka's win on Monday a win for age and experience.
This one hinged on the conclusion of the fourth set, when Wawrinka came through by taking the last three points of the tiebreaker.
Medvedev began to wilt right then, part of a portion of the match when he ceded 12 of 13 points.
That stretch included a break in the final set's initial game when Medvedev sent a forehand long.
The men's quarter-finals Tuesday will be defending champion Novak Djokovic against No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada, and Roger Federer against 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren of the United States.
2016 champ Kerber eliminated
There will be a first-time Australian Open champion in the women's draw.
Pavlyuchenkova led 5-2 in the first set before 2016 Australian Open champion Kerber began a comeback that saw her win the opening set in a tiebreaker. But Pavlychenkova took the second in a tiebreaker and then broke serve immediately on the way to a 4—0 lead in the third.
Pavlyuchenkova, who took out No. 2 Karolina Pliskova in the third round, will next play Garbine Muguruza, who beat 9th-seeded Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.
Kerber was the last former Australian titlist left in the draw.
Pavlyuchenkova will face Garbine Muguruza, another two-time Grand Slam title winner who advanced by ousting No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.
Muguruza won the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon. She is unseeded at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2014 French Open.
Elsewhere, No. 28 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia rallied from a set and a break down to beat 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-5, despite being broken twice while serving for the match.
"Absolutely delighted that she found a way to get through. I mean, it wasn't the easiest to watch," said Kontaveit's coach, Nigel Sears. "A bit of an emotional roller-coaster. Certainly put me through the ringer today."
Kontaveit, who had been 0-3 in the fourth round at majors, next plays two-time major champion and 2018 Australian Open runner-up Simona Halep.
"Mentally," Halep said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Elise Mertens, "I think I did a great job today."