Melbourne, Australia, Jan 23 (EFE).- Rafael Nadal on Sunday easily moved into the Australian Open quarterfinals after a tough first set against Adrian Mannarino to face off against Denis Shapovalov, who upset Alexander Zverev.
The Spaniard had to fend off the only break point carved out in the first half and then fight through a marathon first-set tiebreaker, but then cruised to a 7-6 (16-14), 6-2, 6-2.
“First set was very, very emotional,” Nadal said after the two-hour-and-40-minute match that saw him into his 14th Australian Open quarterfinals. Roger Federer holds the record for the most last-8 appearances with 15.
“Anything could happen there. I was a little bit lucky at the end. I had my chances, but then he had a lot of chances, too,” he added.
Once he bagged the first set, which lasted for one hour and 21 minutes, there was no stopping Nadal, who claimed two service breaks to double his lead.
Although Nadal dropped his serve once in the third set, he broke the Frenchman’s three times to keep his bid for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title alive.
Next up for the 35-year-old will be Shapovalov, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament by knocking out third seed Zverev in straight sets.
With a 6-3 7-6, 6-3 win, Shapovalov became only the third Canadian to book a spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
“I’m happy to pull through and win today again,” Shapovalov said after the game that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes.
The German saw the first set slip through his hands as he dropped his serve in the fourth game and paid for three tiebreak unforced errors that spoiled his comeback from 2-0 down in the second set.
Shapovalov stormed into a 3-0 lead in the third set, which proved to be decisive to set a quarterfinal clash against Nadal.
“It’s always an honour to go up against a guy like Rafa,” said Shapovalov, who trails 3-1 in the head-to-head record against the Spaniard.
“It’s always fun, it’s always going to be a battle against him and yeah, it’s going to be a tough one, definitely going to enjoy it,” he added.
Italian Matteo Berrettini lived up to his seventh seed to defeat Spaniard Pablo Carreño 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 to earn his maiden Australian Open quarterfinal appearance.
Berrettini will face off against Frenchman Gael Monfils, who aims for his first Grand Slam semifinal appearance since the 2016 US Open. EFE