MELBOURNE, January 21, 2017
Rafael Nadal survives a tough test on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday, fighting past Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
In a thrilling encounter, the World No. 9 from Spain withstood 19 aces from the German teenager, hitting 11 of his own. Nadal landed 75 per cent of his first serves and capitalize on five of his 16 break point chances. In the final stages of the match, the 2009 Melbourne champion was physically in better shape to seal victory after four hours and five minutes.
“It is obviously an important result for me. I lost the last couple of matches in the fifth. So it is important for me to win a match like this. I am very happy,” Nadal told afterwards.
“It was a tough match. Alexander is a player that has an amazing potential. He is able to produce great shots. He’s already one of the best players of the world. He can be even better. He can be fighting for the most important things. So I think he will do it.”
Nadal will next take on Gael Monfils, the sixth seed from France defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber from Germany 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 in one hour and 55 minutes.
“Even now I’m disappointed, but I know that this was a great match. That was a great fight,” Zverev told in his post-match press conference. “There’s a lot of positives in this match. I think he’s probably one of the fittest tennis players in the history of the game. Obviously I wanted to win. I could have won. It’s disappointing. But I’m fine actually.”
The 19-year-old German had to deal with physical problems in the fifth set.
“A few years back when I played five sets, I just wasn’t as fit as now. I played worse players, much shorter, and I was still exhausted. But now, I’m quite strong and I feel quite well on court, except that one game where I cramped. I cramped after a long rally. I still had game points to go up 3-2. I lost my service game I think because of that a little bit.”
Zverev’s brother Mischa is going to challenger World No. 1 Andy Murray on Sunday.
Highlights Day 6
- Rafael Nadal defeats teenager Alexander Zverev in a bruising five-set battle to reach the fourth round. Nadal: “He’s the future of our sport”
- From 2-5 down in the final set, Karolina Pliskova – one of the favourites for the title – digs deep to beat Jelena Ostapenko 10-8 in the third
- Johanna Konta and Grigor Dimitrov impress with exhilarating performances
- Daria Gavrilova keeps Aussie hopes alive with an impressive win over Timea Bacsinszky
- World No.6 Dominika Cibulkova falls to Ekaterina Makarova, who is into a seventh straight fourth round in Melbourne
- Denis Istomin backs up his win over Novak Djokovic with another five-set victory, this time against Pablo Carreno Busta
Day/Night Attendance: 82,909