Melbourne, Australia, Jan 21 (EFE).- Rafael Nadal shone on Friday in his first real test at this year’s Australian Open after beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the third round.
“It is a very special week for me. I played against a great player and it was my best match so far,” Nadal said after reaching the fourth round for the 15th time in his career, equaling Roger Federer’s record.
The Spanish star produced his best tennis of the competition so far in a first set in which he served well, conceding just one point throughout the frame, as he displayed his classic repertoire of accurate forehands at breathtaking speed at the Rod Laver Arena.
His performance dropped in the second frame as he started making unforced errors, but it was enough to take a 2-0 lead.
But Khachanov, who was hoping to register his first ever victory against Nadal having lost in their previous seven meetings, fought back in the third set after he broke the Spaniard’s serve early on.
The world’s sixth-ranked player soon rediscovered his best form after connecting several unlikely winners in the first part of the deciding set.
Nadal will face either France’s Adrian Mannarino or Russian Aslan Karatsev (18) in the fourth round.
Germany’s third-seeded Alexander Zverev dismissed Moldovan Radu Albot in straight sets, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 off the back of his powerful serve.
Zverev, who hopes to win his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne, hit 16 aces and won 83% of points off his first serve as he booked his spot in the third round for the fourth consecutive year, where he will face Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
The German is one of the favorites to win the title following the deportation of the number one seed, Novak Djokovic.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini (7th seed) outlasted Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in an epic battle, winning 6-2, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (5) in a marathon clash that lasted four hours and ten minutes. EFE