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Aus Open PIX: Nadal battles to meet Cilic into quarters, Dimitrov beats Kyrgios

Last updated on: January 21, 2018 21:46 IST

Images from matches played on Day 7 at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park on Sunday

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a shot in his fourth round match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Top seed Rafael Nadal was rattled by a feisty challenge from Diego Schwartzman but held firm to fend off the diminutive Argentine 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

 

In an often breathtaking clash laden with sumptuous shot-making, the Spaniard was rocked by the hard-hitting Schwartzman who broke him three times to claim the second set at Rod Laver Arena.

But the 16-time Grand Slam champion responded with typical grit, bolstering his defence to blanket the 24th seed’s firepower and counter-punching brilliantly to book a match with Croatia’s Marin Cilic.

After three cakewalks in the previous rounds, the three-hour 51-minute work-out was timely, said Nadal, who came into the tournament with some queries over a knee injury.

“You can’t expect easy matches when you’re playing in big tournaments,” the world number one told reporters after saving all his seven break points in the final set.

”It’s always better winning in two hours than in four. But that’s it. It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure.

”A lot of positive things that I managed well."

“But being honest, too, moments like this helps to be more confident in yourself, in your body.”

The victory ensured Nadal, who lost a five-set classic to long-time rival Roger Federer in the final last year, will retain his world number one ranking.

It also put the Mallorcan equal second with Stefan Edberg on the number of quarter-final appearances in the Australian grand slam in the professional era. Federer, naturally, leads with 14.

The jet-heeled Schwartzman joined the grand slam quarter-final club at the US Open, a milestone moment during an impressive rise up the rankings in 2017.

Nadal had seen off his first three opponents without dropping a set but it was soon clear at Rod Laver Arena that Schwartzman was cut from a different cloth.

 Diego Schwartzman

IMAGE: Diego Schwartzman of Argentina makes a return during his match against Rafael Nadal of Spain. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

The 1.70m (5-ft 7-in) Argentine virtually needed a step-ladder to reach the bounce of Nadal’s top-spin bombs but he was all over the Spaniard’s serve from the get-go.

He grudgingly surrendered his own first, though, allowing Nadal to wrap up the first set in 45 minutes.

From there the match went stratospheric in quality, each player landing blows like bare-knuckled prize-fighters.

After six breaks of serve and a feast of glorious shot-making, the fireworks continued in a frenzied tiebreak.

Schwartzman cracked a blazing forehand down the line to lead 2-0, then outpointed the Spaniard with a backhand volley to move within two points of the set.

The pressure told as a forehand ballooned off the frame of Nadal’s racquet and another backhand sailed long to put the match on level terms.

Schwartzman was pumped, but he left the court immediately, his extended break allowing Nadal time to marshal his forces.

The lefthander resumed with renewed vigour to break Schwartzman to love and after roaring to 5-2, he claimed the third set with an ace.

The momentum was now all with Nadal. He broke again quickly, leaving Schwartzman to curse loudly in Spanish and bicker with the chair umpire at the change of ends.

The 25-year-old kept swinging for the fences to the finish and saved a second match point by ripping a backhand winner down the line.

Nadal simply bided his time before pouncing on the third, a second serve dismissed with a sizzling return winner to keep his bid for a 17th Grand Slam title firmly on track.

Dimitrov stays cool to subdue Kyrgios in thriller

Grigor Dimitrov

IMAGE: Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria celebrates winning his fourth round match against Nick Kyrgios of Australia. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov kept his cool in the Rod Laver Arena maelstrom to knock home favourite Nick Kyrgios out of the Australian Open in a fourth-round thriller on Sunday. 

Third seed Dimitrov absorbed 76 winners and struck 64 of his own to edge a scintillating duel 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4).

Kyrgios fought until the end, breaking back when Dimitrov served for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set but Dimitrov booked a quarter-final spot in the night's third tiebreak when he fired a sublime forehand winner.

Defeat for Kyrgios means Australia's long wait for a men's champion at their home slam will extend to a 43rd year.

Dimitrov will play British player Kyle Edmund for a place in his second successive semi-final in Melbourne.

Cilic in quarters with 100th Grand Slam win

Marin Cilic

IMAGE: Croatia's Marin Cilic celebrates winning against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain at the Australian on Sunday. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic became the first man into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open when he ground down Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(0), 7-6(3).

In an entertaining baseline duel at the Margaret Court Arena, sixth seed Cilic blew away Carreno Busta in the tie-breaks to celebrate his 100th Grand Slam win.

A former semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, Cilic also equalled Goran Ivanisevic’s Croatian record of 11 Grand Slam quarter-final appearances.

Carreno Busta showed heart to rally from a break down in the fourth set and push the match into a third tie-break but was quickly overwhelmed by Cilic’s firepower as the Croatian brought up four match points in a hurry.

Cilic blew one of them by spraying a crosscourt shot wide but made no mistake on the second, hammering a huge first serve down the ‘T’ and picking off the return with a straightforward forehand winner, bringing raucous cheers from the large Croatian contingent in the terraces.

“It was an unbelievable match, a lot of ups and downs,” Cilic said in his on-court interview.

“Pablo came back and really gave me a lot of trouble ... We had a lot of tough rallies so I was really glad how I stayed in there mentally.”

Edmund ousts Seppi to reach first Grand Slam quarter-final

Edmund Kyle

IMAGE: Kyle Edmund of Britain celebrates winning his match against Andreas Seppi of Italy. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Britain's Kyle Edmund reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time after coming from a set down to oust Italian Andreas Seppi 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The 23-year-old, the only Briton in the men's draw in the absence of the injured Andy Murray, smashed 63 winners to progress to a last eight meeting with Grigor Dimitrov when Seppi netted after just under three hours on court.

Edmund also fired down 25 aces to tame the neat Italian but it was the thumping winners, particularly off his forehand, that proved decisive after he had reduced the error count that marred his first-set performance.

The world number 49, who went five sets with 11th seed Kevin Anderson in round one and again in brutal heat in round three, required medical treatment on his shoulder in the first set but looked untroubled by it for the rest of the match.

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