Tennis·ROUNDUP

Nadal outlasts Kyrgios to set up Australian Open quarter-final match vs. Thiem

Rafael Nadal on Monday beat Aussie hope Nick Kyrgios in four sets to reach the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam tournament for the 41st time while also joining Jimmy Connors in third place on the all-time list of Grand Slam quarter-final appearances,

2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza also advance

Top seed Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning set point during his fourth-round match against Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday. Nadal prevailed in four sets and will face No. 5 Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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."

Sure enough, Nadal faltered while serving for the win at 5-4, double-faulting to create a pair of break points, the second of which Kyrgios converted with a jumping forehand and celebrated by throwing his head back and screaming. Spectators rose and roared and waved their Australian flags in support of the 24-year-old from Canberra.

"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.

Nick Kyrgios arrives for Monday's match wearing late NBA star Kobe Bryant's No. 8 Lakers jersey just hours after the latter was killed in a helicopter crash. "He has been one of the greatest sportsmen in history," says Kyrgios. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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.

Wawrinka is 34, Medvedev 23. Wawrinka owns three Grand Slam titles in all and now is on his way to his 18th major quarter-final. Medvedev's lone run to that stage at a Slam came at Flushing Meadows last September, before he ended up losing in the final against Rafael Nadal in — yep, you guessed it — five sets.

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.

Daniil Medvedev plays a backhand. (Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

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.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova recovered from giving up a big first-set lead to beat Angelique Kerber 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the second straight year.

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.

Garbine Muguruza of Spain defeated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-3 to book her spot in the Australian Open quarter-finals. (Dave Hunt/EPA-EFE)

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.

Halep cruises

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.

Romania's Simona Halep reached the Australian Open quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Belgium's Elise Mertens on Sunday. (Scott Barbour/EPA-EFE)

"Mentally," Halep said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Elise Mertens, "I think I did a great job today."

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