Home Sports News Kyrgios prevails in thriller to set up Nadal clash

Kyrgios prevails in thriller to set up Nadal clash

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MELBOURNE:                  –          Top seed Rafael Nadal routed fel­low Spaniard Pablo Carreno Bus­ta, losing just seven games, while Nick Kyrgios prevailed in a five-set thriller against Karen Khacha­nov on Saturday to set up a block­buster fourth-round match.

The 33-year-old world No 1 was in superb form to charge past the 27th seed 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in bright sunshine on Rod La­ver Arena and make the round of 16 at Melbourne Park for the 13th time. Kyrgios, the Austra­lian showman came through a tense battle with the Russian 16th seed after 4hrs 26 mins in front of passionate home sup­port on Melbourne Arena to win 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/8).

Fifth seed Dominic Thiem dropped a set but looked steady to beat 29th seed Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 and set up a mouth-watering clash with 10th seed Gael Monfils in the fourth round. Frenchman Mon­fils ended the run of qualifier Er­nests Gulbis 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3.

World number four Daniil Medvedev eased past Alexei Popyrin in straight sets to set up a last-16 clash with former champion Stan Wawrinka. The tall Russian had few problems dispatching the unseeded Aus­tralian 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Seventh seed Alexander Zverev reached the second week in Melbourne for the second straight year as he beat veteran Fernando Ver­dasco 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. The German will have a tough test in the next round against Andrey Rublev.

The 17th seeded Russian con­tinued his unbeaten run in 2020, that has seen him lift two titles already, to down 11th seed Da­vid Goffin 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4). The Belgian led by a set and then saved four match points in the tiebreak but could not force a decider. Later, Stan Wawrinka advanced to the fourth round after 19th seed John Isner with­drew from their match. The 15th seeded Swiss was leading 6-4, 4-1 when the American retired.

Nadal joined defending cham­pion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the fourth round with a potential showdown next with Nick Kyrgios. The Australian, who disparagingly labelled Nadal “super salty” last year, and mim­icked his serving routine during his second-round clash, meets Russian Karen Khachanov later. Nadal, a finalist last year when he crashed to Novak Djokovic in straight sets, was far from clini­cal in his previous match against Federico Delbonis, winning only three out of 20 break points. But his conversion rate against his Davis Cup teammate was much better, putting away five from 10 in a dominant display. He broke Carreno Busta on his first service game to immediately take charge, dictating the rallies and forcing his opponent around the court.

Carreno Busta became a spec­tator as Nadal raced through the set in 29 minutes and he then broke again early in the second set to inflict more pain. Nadal’s relentless consistency was too much for the 28-year-old, who had no answers to the constant pressure and pinpoint service returns that were a trademark in the easy win. Kyrgios had admit­ted he was on the verge of going “to a very dark place” in his sec­ond-round clash against Gilles Simon before refocusing. And he mostly held it together against Khachanov, before a blow up at the umpire in set four over a time violation. He had a match-point chance in each of the third and fourth sets but the Russian held firm to ensure Kyrgios played the longest match of his career.

No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 6 Belinda Bencic all lost in straight sets, meaning nine of the top 13 seeds already are gone. Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) to 30th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Svi­tolina, a semifinalist at the past two majors, was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by two-time Slam champ Garb­iñe Muguruza. Bencic, a semifi­nalist at Flushing Meadows last September, offered even less pushback while being defeated 6-0, 6-1 in 49 minutes by 28th-seeded Anett Kontaveit.

Kontaveit now meets 18-year-old Iga Swiatek, who is ranked 59th and eliminated No. 19 seed Donna Vekic 7-5, 6-3. Simona Halep, who is seeded fourth, stuck around by beating Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4, and next plays No. 16 Elise Mertens, who ended the Grand Slam re­turn of 20-year-old American CiCi Bellis 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0.

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