A week ago there were doubts about Rafael Nadal. Not anymore. Through three matches at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has looked dominant, especially so after crushing No. 28 seed Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.
“When you win 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the third round, is always a great result, no? Without playing well, is impossible to have these kind of results. So happy for that. Happy to be through, yeah, fourth round. Already is good news.”
Nadal, who has dropped just 21 games, figures to continue his roll on Sunday against diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman who knocked out the explosive Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
“Being honest, he’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I don’t going to win,” Nadal said of Schwartzman. “He’s a player that have all the shots, big control from the baseline, don’t miss much. He’s able to change directions easy. He’s a player that already played the quarterfinals in the US Open. He’s already in the fourth round.”
Next week, Nadal could run into Marin Cilic. The Croatian ended the hopes and dreams of Ryan Harrison in straight sets. Cilic now meets the hot-handed US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta who stopped Gilles Muller in the heat of the day.
Also scoring wins in the heat were Kyle Edmund and Grigor Dimitrov.
Edmund collected one of his best career wins holding off Nikolaz Basilashvili 7-6(0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5. Edmund looked out of sorts in the second, seeking treatment for a back injury. But he overcame the ailment, the scorching heat and the Georgian for one of his best wins. Even Andy Murray saluted the effort.
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) January 19, 2018
“This one today was very tough,” Edmund said. “Probably hottest conditions I played in for that sort of period of time. I mean, I don’t know the temperatures, but obviously on paper they were saying it was pretty much 40 degrees today. Yeah, just really happy to come through and, you know, mentally it’s a really good win, that sort of match.”
In his first Australian fourth round, Edmund will take on Andreas Seppi. The Italian withstood 52 aces from Ivo Karlovic, who never once broke Seppi, to win it 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-7(5), 9-7 in 3 hours, 51 minutes.
Following a poor performance Wednesday night against the lightly-regarded Mackenzie McDonald, No. 3 seed Dimitrov was hoping for a better showing against the rising Andrey Rublev. But while the Bulgarian took the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, he sprayed errors and doubles faults all over the court.
Dimitrov finished with 61 unforced errors including 15 double faults. And he knows to still be around in a week he’ll have to improve.
“Obviously today was another tough test for me,” Dimitrov said. “I just had to find a way again, simple as that. At least the game was a little bit better than the previous match.
“I’m not going to give any excuses right now,” he added. “It was just not a good day for me serving-wise. I tried to change the way I was tossing the ball or serving throughout the whole match, but just didn’t work. Just didn’t work.
“I have to accept it and move on. 15, 16 double-faults, that’s absolutely unacceptable. So, yeah, hopefully I serve better next round.”
Up next for Dimitrov is a super Sunday showdown against Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios flexed his talent taking out former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four very tough sets 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5). Kyrgios at the end had to rally from a 5-2 hole in the fourth set breaker to take the last five points.
“I missed a backhand, then I went to the net not in a really bad condition, but he play a passing shot and he touch the net,” Tsonga said of the end. “It’s good play. What I can say? Then he was solid, no, nothing to say.”
Kyrgios improved to a perfect 7-0 in 2018.
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