Nadal Cruises Into Australian Open Third Round

Rafael Nadal (photo: Mark Peterson/Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 11, 2021

Rafael Nadal continued his perfect record against qualifiers at the Australian Open following a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over US-American Michael Mmoh to reach the third round in Melbourne. The World No. 2 has now won 26 of the 27 matches he has played against qualifiers at the Grand Slams, with Dustin Brown the only qualifier to have defeated the Spaniard at a major, triumphing in the second round at 2015 Wimbledon.

Under the lights on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday evening, Nadal remained untroubled, hit 40 winners and won 84 percent of his first-service points to power to victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

“I always try to be better, sometimes it happens and sometimes not,” said Nadal of his performance during his post-match interview. “It’s a positive feeling winning in straight sets. I wish Michael all the very best for the rest of the season. I’ll focus on what’s coming.

“I heard about him (Michael), and I always have a lot of respect for every opponent. Yesterday on my day off I was watching some videos of him on YouTube trying to know a little bit more about him and every day when you go on court, anything can happen, you can win, you can lose you need to be ready.”

Nadal will next play Briton Cameron Norrie, who edged out Roman Safiullin of Russia 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3) in a rain-delayed match which finished shortly before midnight. “I’ve never played him before so it will be a great experience for me,” Norrie commented on his upcoming task.

Tsitsipas advances

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was taken down to the wire by Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis as he eventually clinched a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4 victory in four hours and 32 minutes to book a third-round meeting with Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, who beat Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(5).

“I just want to go for an ice bath right now,” said Tsitsipas. “Thanasi is a great competitor and fighter. It was extremely difficult to face him today, he has huge potential. He is a greater server and has huge shots from the baseline. I know he wasn’t able to play for many years, but I’m pleased to see him back competing at a very high level.”

In his 75th consecutive Grand Slam tournament, 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez became oldest man to reach the third round of a major since Ken Rosewall in 1978 as he rallied from two sets down to beat Italian Lorenzo Sonego 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Red-hot Russians prevail

Up next for Lopez will be in-form Russian Andrey Rublev, who secured a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(8) victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

Fellow Russian Karen Khachanov meanwhile defeated Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 face Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who earlier in the day beat Czech youngster Tomas Machac 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Hightest-ranked Russian and No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev beat Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 in over one hour and 44 minutes on John Cain Arena.

“I have the momentum and I feel like I can do a lot things,” said Medvedev, who hit 35 winners, including 13 aces. “I hope I can keep it up. So far it’s working and I hope it doesn’t stop. There’s no time to celebrate my birthday in a tournament. I got presents from my wife, but I’ll soon look to my next match.”

In other action, Fabio Fognini came out on top in an all-Italian clash with Salvatore Caruso, winning 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(12) before appearing to call his countrymen ‘lucky’ as the pair exchanged heated words while returning to their benches after the match.

Harris reaches third round for the first time

South African Lloyd Harris defeated Australian Alexei Popyrin in a three-hour epic on Court 3 to reach the third round, his first ever Grand Slam round of 32 appearance.

The 23-year-old triumphed 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 and will face unseeded US-American, Mackenzie McDonald for a place in the last 16. McDonald edged out No. 22 seed and World No. 25 Borna Coric of Croatia in four sets.

It was one marathon too many for Harris, who had needed four sets and two hours and a half hour to down Danish World No. 188 Mikael Torpegaard to reach the second round on Tuesday.

Harris started strong, taking the opening set 6-2 but Popyrin fought back to win the second. The Capetonian however found his momentum to claim the third set.

After falling a set behind, Popyrin twice managed to square the match to push it into a decider, with the fourth set alone taking a full hour.

The match was in the balance during the sixth game of the decider as the two players went back and forth on deuce for over ten minutes. Harris eventually forged ahead 4-2 with a huge forehand winner to break Popyrin’s serve and set up the win.

Harris, who racked up 25 aces for the match to Popyrin’s 21, served to love the next game, yet the 113-ranked Aussie refused to give in, taking the next game with an ace.

World No. 91 Harris had other ideas though and finished the job, serving to love and ending Popyrin’s hopes of reaching the Australian Open third round for the third time.