The Spanish Rafael Nadal kept in focus the goal of reaching his 21st. Grand Slam title, eliminated the Russian Karen Khachanov from the Australian Open 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 and settled in the round of 16.
The current number 5 in the ATP ranking, 2009 champion in Melbourne, prevailed with authority against the Muscovite (30th), who was the first to steal a set from him in the ocean tournament that this year does not have the Serbian Novak Djokovic or the Swiss Roger Federer, who share the record for coronations in “majors”.
Nadal, 35, who came from dispatching the American Marcos Giron (66th) and the German Yannick Hanfmann (126th) in straight sets, won this Thursday after 2 hours and 50 minutes of play on the center court of the Rod Laver Sand.
The Spaniard, still without a defined rival in the next instance -it will be the Frenchman Adrian Mannarino or the Russian Aslas Karatsev-, reached the second week of the Australian Open for the 15th time. time in 17 participations.
He was only previously eliminated in the 2004 editions (third round), that of his debut in the tournament, and 2016 (first phase).
“It is surely my best match in the tournament,” Nadal admitted in a message heard by the public in the stands. “This is a very special week for me. Coming from where I come from, that makes things very special,” he said.
Nadal returned to the circuit this year after being inactive since August last year due to injuries and a Covid-19 infection in December. In preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year, he won the ATP 250 tournament in Melbourne.
On the same stage, a while before, the Italian Matteo Berrettini (7th) also achieved his classification with a victory against the Spanish Carlos Alcaraz (31st) by 6-2, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 2- 6 and 7-6 (5).
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The German Alexander Zverev (3rd), 2020 semifinalist, did the same with his victory against the Moldovan from the “qualy”, Radu Albot (124th), in straight sets: 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 .
In the women’s draw, the current champion Naomi Osaka, 14th in the world, was eliminated in the third round against the American Amanda Anisimova (60th), who saved two “match points” before winning 4-6, 6-3, 7 -6 (5).
In the second round, Anisimova will face the world number, the Australian Ashleigh Barty, winner of the Italian Camila Giorgi (33rd) 6-2, 6-3.
Two other favorites in Melbourne also extended their path: the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (4th) beat the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko (26th) 2-6, 6-4 and 6-4; while the Greek Maria Sakkari (5th) beat the Russian Veronika Kudermetova (28th) 6-4, 6-1.