Rafael Nadal picked up arguably his best win of 2016, avenging an Australian Open loss by beating countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6(9).
Nadal was actually down a break in the second and down 6-3 in the tiebreaker before rallying over the 65th-ranked Verdasco.
“I lost matches similar to this one in Australia, in Buenos Aires, in Rio de Janeiro, so it’s important winning matches like this for me. Like the other day in the third, today in the second,” said Nadal.
“I knew arriving to a tie-break against a player like Verdasco, normally he serves better than me. Normally in these kind of matches I have more to lose than him, so he’s able to play very aggressive. He has amazing shots. He gets in a tie-break and you know you’re in trouble.
“I feel lucky to win the tie-break, and at the same time I think at the end of the tie-break I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points. It is an important victory for me. Two tough wins here. That’s something that stays in my mind and helps.”
Nadal returns Wednesday in fourth round play to face the surging 18-year-old Alexander Zverev after the young German destroyed Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-2.
“I had a great day today,” Zverev said. “Someone like Gilles, if you don’t hit him off the court he’s going to be tough to beat. He’s going to be running and fighting all day. So, I knew what I had to do, and I think I did it pretty well.
“Rafa, he’s one of the greatest in the sport ever, winning 14 slams,” Zverev said. “He’s probably one of the greatest fighters ever, so it would be a big honour to play against someone like him.”
Kei Nishikori was down early against American Steve Johnson who served for the first at 5-3, but the Japenese rallied for a 7-6, 7-6 win. He moves on to take on towering John Isner who had no issues with Adrian Mannarino.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will seek his own revenge tomorrow against Feliciano Lopez. Lopez outlasted countryman Roberto Bautista Agut in a good 3-set tussle while Djokovic advanced over Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 7-5.
And Dominic Thiem upended Jack Sock in three. He’ll face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat another American, Sam Querrey.
The bottom half also returns tomorrow in fourth round action with Tomas Berdych v Milos Raonic, Richard Gasquet v Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka v David Goffin and Federico Delbonis v Gael Monfils.
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