The 2009 champion Rafael Nadal had to battle hard as he dropped the first set of the tournament against Argentine Diego Schwartman to reach his 10th Australian Open quarter-final on Sunday. He next faces the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, while the third ranked Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Kyle Edmund of Brittain advanced after four set wins on Sunday at Melbourne Park in the first grand slam of the year.
Nadal survived a three hour fifty one minute match which ensures he finishes ranked number one even if archrival Roger Federer wins his 20th grand slam title on next Sunday. The scoreline was 6-3,6-7(4),6-3,6-3 as the top ranked Spaniard clinched his place in quarter finals of a grand slam for the thirty third time in his career. Schwartman, though, fought gallantly and was rewarded with a set for his efforts. After dropping the first set, the Argentine came from a break down thrice to force a tie-break which he won 7-4. In all three sets which Nadal won the Spaniard had to save break point chances but managed to survive, also improving to 4-0 against the 5 feet 7 inch tall Schwartman.
Marin Cilic of Croatia won his 100th Grand Slam match to beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(2),6-3,7-6(0),7-6(3). The sixth seeded Cillic thus becomes only the second Croat to reach multiple Australian Open quarter-finals after Goran Ivanisevic. Both are now tied with 11 career appearances in grand slam quarter-finals. The 11th ranked Carreno Busta established a one-set lead, coming from 2-5 down to force a tie-break which he won 7-2 claiming the last four points.
Busta was serving for a two sets to one lead at 6-5 in the third set after being a break down. He was unable to hold on as Cillic demolished him 7-0 in the tie-break. Cilic had an early break in the fourth but Busta broke back to level at 3-3 and eventually took the match to a third tie-break in four sets. Cillic was always in command of the tie-break as he served the match out after three hours and twenty seven minutes.
Kyle Edmund reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open after winning a battle of unseeded players against the Italian Andreas Seppi 6-7(4),7-5,6-2,6-3 in two hours and fifty seven minutes. He is the only active British man to reach the last eight other than former world number one Andy Murray. Seppi, who had beaten Ivo Karlovic 9-7 in the fifth set won the first set in a tie-break after Edmund lost both points on serve trailing 4-5 in the tie-break.
Seppi, ranked 76th in the world, broke Edmund’s serve in the third game of the second set to grasp control of the match, but the Brit replied immediately with a break of his own before leveling the match on his second set point with a timely second break in the 12th game. Edmund grew in confidence as the 33 year old Seppi’s level dropped, probably because of the fatigue be from his third round match.
In the most eagerly awaited match of the day, third seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov played his best tennis of the tournament as he took out the last remaining Australian in the draw Nick Kyrgios 7-6(3),7-6(4),4-6,7-6(4) in three hour and 26 minutes. Kyrgios fired 36 aces but Dimitrov was solid in the tie-breaks which was the decisive factor. Only one point separated the two as Dimitrov won 157 points to Kyrgios’s 156. Kyrgios saved three break points in the first set in the sixth game, before a tie-break went the way of the Bulgarian when Kyrgios double faulted.
Dimitrov had a break in the seventh game of the second set but failed to serve out at 5-4 as another tie-break ensued. Dimitrov went ahead 3-1, but Kyrgios rallied to level at 4-4 before Dimitrov took the next points for a two set lead. Kyrgios saved a break point in the second game of the third and went ahead 3-2 as he broke serve. He failed to convert it into double break at 5-3 but served out the next game to love.
In the fourth set Dimitrov failed to get a break in the fourth game despite having two break point chances. He was gifted one in the eighth game as Kyrgios put an easy smash into the net. Kyrgios broke back right away at 15 and it went into a third tie-break. Points went to serve till 3-3 before a Kyrgios error gave Dimitrov the mini break. He then held with his serve and won with a forehand passing shot on his second match point to seal the win. He faces Edmund on Tuesday.
The following is the list of matches in the bottom half of the draw with my pick mentioned first :-
Roger Federer (2) v. Marton Fucsovics (-)
Tomas Berdych (19) v. Fabio Fognini (25)
Novak Djokovic (14) v. Hyeon Chung (-)
Dominic Thiem (5) v. Tennys Sandgren (-)
In the ladies section of the draw, the second seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the former World number One dropped only three against Magdalena Rybarikova of the Slovak Republic and in the last match of the day which finished well past midnight in Melbourne, the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina beat Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic dropping only three games. Both won with identical scoreline of 6-3,6-0 to move within one match of a semi-final meeting on Thursday.
Elise Mertens of Belgium beat Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6(5),7-5. In the only match that went into the decider on Sunday, the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro beat the Estonian Anett Kontaveit 4-6,6-4,8-6. Svitolina next faces Mertens, while Wozniacki will play Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
In the matches to be played tomorrow, Simona Halep faces Naomi Osaka, Katerina Pliskova will play fellow Czech Barbara Strycova. The American Madison Keys plays the Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, while the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber of Germany will meet Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]