Melbourne, January 27: World number one Rafael Nadal weathered a fierce storm from gutsy showman Nick Kyrgios Monday to set up an Australian Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem and keep alive his quest for a 20th Grand Slam title. The Spanish top seed came through a riveting clash on Rod Laver Arena 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4) to end the gallant hopes of the basketball-mad Australian, who came on court wearing an LA Lakers shirt in honour of Kobe Bryant. He will now face fifth seed Thiem after the Austrian swept past Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
“What can I say about Nick? When he is playing like today with this positive attitude he gives a lot of positive things to our sport,” said Nadal, the 2009 champion who is looking to match Roger Federer’s record 20 Slam crowns. “He’s one of the highest talents we have on our tour and I like the Nick Kyrgios during the whole of this tournament.” “I just feel happy that I won one more match tonight, an important one,” he added.
Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stayed brave in the face of a spirited fightback from former champion Angelique Kerber to move into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-2 win on Monday.
German 17th seed Kerber rallied from 5-2 down and a 3-0 deficit in the tiebreaker to win the opening set against Pavlyuchenkova, who hit an incredible 28 winners to 12 unforced errors but still found herself trailing in the match.
The second set had a similar pattern as three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber saved three set points to force a tiebreaker but the Russian 30th seed would not let the chance slip this time and levelled the match with a booming backhand winner.
Kerber finally ran out of gas as Pavlyuchenkova broke the 2016 winner three times in the decider and will next meet former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who beat Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3 earlier on Monday.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza underlined her return to form as she beat ninth seed Kiki Bertens in 68 minutes to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday.
The unseeded former world number one won 6-3, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena and faces German 17th seed Angelique Kerber or 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the last eight.
Just three of the top 10 seeds remain — top seed Ashleigh Barty and seventh seed Petra Kvitova meet in the quarter-finals.
The other is Simona Halep, the fourth seed, who plays Estonian 28th seed Anett Kontaveit.
The 26-year-old Muguruza reunited with Conchita Martinez, her fellow Spaniard and the 1994 Wimbledon champion, at the start of the year in the hope of reviving her failing career.
Muguruza, who has suffered a barren 18 months, said she was enjoying having Martinez on her coaching team.
Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka turned back the clock in a vintage performance to stun world number four Daniil Medvedev Monday and race into the Australian Open quarter-finals.
The popular Swiss star, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 decider, dug deep to come from behind in five intense sets and win 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
It set up a last-eight clash with either Russian 17th seed Andrey Rublev or German seventh seed Alexander Zverev.
“Another amazing match,” said Wawrinka, who is into his 18th Grand Slam quarter-final, behind only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray among active players.
“The level was super-high and atmosphere is so special here in Australia.
Seventh seed Alexander Zverev of Germany strolled past childhood friend Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Monday to end the Russian’s 15-match winning streak and book his maiden quarter-final spot in the Australian Open.
Rublev arrived in Melbourne having won titles in Doha and Adelaide at the start of the season while he also won all four singles matches he contested at the season-ending Davis Cup Finals in November.
In stark contrast, Zverev came to the year’s first Grand Slam lacking confidence after losing all three of his singles matches at the inaugural ATP Cup to Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. (Agencies)