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Aus Open: Nadal, Barty cruise into quarters

Last updated on: February 15, 2021 18:20 IST
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Images from Monday's action at the Australian Open.

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates victory over Italy's Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open on Monday.

IMAGE: Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates victory over Italy's Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open on Monday. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

Rafael Nadal threw a blanket over the fire of Fabio Fognini to cruise into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win on Monday.

 

Facing the man who dumped him from the 2015 US Open, second seed Nadal held steady against the fierce hitting of the flamboyant Italian and counter-punched brilliantly to avoid a longer scrap at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena.

The score suggested otherwise, but it was a quality two-hour 16-minute workout for Nadal, who had to rally from 4-2 down in the second set to put the match on his terms.

From there, the momentum was all the Spaniard's as Nadal roared through the final set to fix up a clash with either Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Brilliant Barty sweeps into Melbourne quarter-finals

Ash Barty

IMAGE: Australia’s Ash Barty in action during her fourth round match against Shelby Rogers of the US. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

Ash Barty made light of the challenge of unseeded American Shelby Rogers with a commanding 6-3, 6-4 victory to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the third year in a row.

The world number one has tried to deflect talk that she might end Australia's 43-year wait for a homegrown champion next Saturday but she looked every bit the title contender as she swept into the last eight without dropping a set.

Rogers has played quarter-finals at two Grand Slams and made a habit of upsetting highly-ranked players but she was unable to get enough of a handle on Barty's serve to make her high quality returns a factor.

Barty faltered for the first time with victory in sight, allowing Rogers to take back one of the two breaks of serve she had given up in the second set, but the top seed fixed a quarter-final date with Czech Karolina Muchova two games later.

Tsitsipas in last eight as injured Berrettini withdraws

Italy's Matteo Berrettini during his third round match against Russia's Karen Khachanov.

IMAGE: Italy's Matteo Berrettini during his third round match against Russia's Karen Khachanov. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters

Matteo Berrettini withdrew from his Australian Open fourth-round match against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday due to an abdominal strain.

Berrettini suffered the injury during his victory over Russia's Karen Khachanov in the third round on Saturday.

He had a medical time out during the match but was able to continue.

"Abdominal ... I felt it during the previous match against Khachanov and it's worse than I thought so I cannot play," said Berrettini, who had been due to play Tsitsipas in the final match at Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

The walkover sent fifth seed Tsitsipas into the next round, where he will meet Spain's Rafael Nadal for a place in the last four of the year's opening Grand Slam.

Merciless Medvedev mauls McDonald

Russia's Daniil Medvedev in action against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States during his fourth round match at the Australian Open on Monday.

IMAGE: Russia's Daniil Medvedev in action against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States during his fourth round match at the Australian Open on Monday. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Daniil Medvedev firmed as an Australian Open contender when he brushed aside Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals and extend his winning streak to 18 matches on Monday.

The fourth seeded Russian won his first career five-set match in the third round but there was no need for a prolonged spell in the sun on Monday and he saw off McDonald in less than 90 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

"It was a great match, I served well, I played well," said Medvedev.

"I was feeling great. I finished it in 1.30, which is important at this stage of the tournament. I managed to take all my chances today I think."

Mackenzie McDonald reacts after winning a point during his fourth round match against Russia's Daniil Medvedev.

IMAGE: Mackenzie McDonald reacts after winning a point during his fourth round match against Russia's Daniil Medvedev. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Medvedev's winning streak includes victories over Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, and titles at the ATP Finals, Paris Masters and most recently the ATP Cup as mainstay of the Russian team.

World number 192 McDonald had some luck going to the net but could not match the power of Medvedev's serve or the intensity the Russian brought to bear on big points.

Medvedev converted six of the seven break points he carved out, the last to win the match and set up a last-eight clash with compatriot Andrey Rublev or Norwegian Casper Ruud.

"I'll be for Andrey because if he wins, it's going to be at least one Russian in the semi-final," Medvedev added.

"Maybe two with Aslan (Karatsev) playing in the other side of the draw."

Qualifier Karatsev will play Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last four on Tuesday.

Czech Muchova knocks out Mertens to set up Barty clash

Karolina Muchova

IMAGE: Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova celebrates winning her fourth round match against Belgium's Elise Mertens. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Czech Karolina Muchova recovered from a shaky start to defeat Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6(5), 7-5 and set up an Australian Open quarter-final against world number one Ash Barty.

Mertens, seeded 18th at Melbourne Park, came into the contest having won 30 matches since the women's tour restarted in August – the most by any player during that period.

She beat Muchova in straight sets at the end of last year in Ostrava in their only previous meeting and opened up a 4-0 lead in the first set with a double break of serves.

But 25th seed Muchova found her range at Margaret Court Arena and stormed back into the match to get back on level terms before claiming the opening set in a tiebreaker.

The 24-year-old got an early break in the second set but Mertens fought back to level at 2-2.

The players seemed headed for another tiebreaker but Muchova picked up the crucial break in the 11th game and converted her first match point when Mertens netted a return.

"It was a little bit slow start there from my side, but Elise played good," Muchova told reporters. "I think she didn't make any mistake and she was pushing me.

"Got back on the track at four-Love and kept fighting, kept playing every ball, trying to put it in and then go for my shots."

The match against Barty will be a second Grand Slam quarter-final for the Czech who reached the last eight at Wimbledon in 2019.

"It's a big challenge, and I definitely will have to bring my best tennis to compete with her and to have a good match out there," Muchova said.

Pegula stuns Svitolina, sets up all-American quarter-final

Jessica Pegula of the United States celebrates winning her fourth round match against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open

IMAGE: Jessica Pegula of the United States celebrates winning her fourth round match against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on Monday. Photograph: Kelly Defina/Reuters

Jessica Pegula continued her dream run at the Australian Open on Monday with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarter-final against Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia's Donna Vekic in straight sets.

Pegula struggled badly in the second set at Rod Laver Arena but regrouped in the decider, breaking former Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist Svitolina in the fourth game before locking down her first win over a top 10 opponent.

Matching Svitolina's power off the baseline, Pegula rushed the net to knock her opponent off her stride and sealed the win on the first match point when the Ukrainian netted a return.

Pegula, who considered giving up tennis after being sidelined for long spells due to knee and hip injuries earlier in her career, will play her good friend Brady for a place in the semis after the 25-year-old beat Vekic 6-1, 7-5.

Jennifer Brady of the United States celebrates victory over Croatia's Donna Vekic.

IMAGE: Jennifer Brady of the United States celebrates victory over Croatia's Donna Vekic. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

"Jen is an awesome person," Pegula told a news conference. "She was texting me, 'I'm so happy, I'm so proud. This is awesome'.

"We've all been pushing each other. Why not push each other into a quarter-final, then one of us be in the semis?"

Vekic was hampered by an injury to her right leg and took a medical timeout at the start of the second set after being blitzed by Brady in the opener.

She emerged with fresh strapping above and below her knee and though she managed to take the fight to Brady in the second set the Croatian was barely moving in the final two games.

With the score tied at 5-5 Vekic surrendered her serve to love, a double fault handing Brady the chance to serve for the match.

The American made no mistake, sealing victory when her opponent fluffed a forehand.

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