Rafael Nadal battled his way into the quarter-finals of the 2020 Australian Open on Monday, overcoming home favorite Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in a gruelling matchup.
The two men shared the first two sets, before Nadal was able to edge an attritional third through a nervy tiebreak.
Nadal controlled long spells of the fourth set but spurned the chance to serve for the match, with Kyrgios doing brilliantly to cling on. The top seed got a second chance in another tiebreaker and eventually found a way past his battling opponent.
The victory for Nadal means he will face fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last eight as he goes in search of his 20th Grand Slam title overall and his first win at this event since 2009.
When the tennis got started, the home player was given raucous backing by the Melbourne crowd. However, the atmosphere didn’t daunt Nadal, who was able to quickly settle into an ominous groove.
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The top seed was able to conjure this magical forehand down the line early on and grab a break of serve.
By contrast, Kyrgios was unable make a dent in his opponent’s serve and was powerless to prevent the 19-time Grand Slam champion from clinching the first set.
After being comprehensively outplayed early on, it was imperative Kyrgios started the second set well.
He had to dig deep to hold serve against a Nadal barrage, and that appeared to fill the Australian with confidence.
Kyrgios then broke to move 3-1 in front and behind his booming serve he was able to do enough to level things up with the second set.
In the third set, both players settled in behind their serve and there was just one break point carved out between the pair; that was for Nadal, although Kyrgios was able to hold.
However, even with that impetus, Kyrgios couldn’t force a fifth.
In the tiebreak, Nadal was able to show more match awareness and discipline on the crucial points, ensuring he eventually finished a draining affair in four sets.
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