Australian Open: Nadal's back finally feeling better while Medvedev survives scare

By Sports Desk February 13, 2021

Rafael Nadal was able to offer a positive update on his fitness after easing into the second week at the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion is playing in his first tournament since November's ATP Finals and faced a battle to make the Melbourne major due to a back problem.

But Nadal has made the fourth round without dropping a set, seeing off Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-2 7-5 on Saturday.

"I did things well, [then there are] things that I need to improve. Something normal," the Spaniard said. "But, yes, happy, of course. Second week, straight sets. Can't complain."
 

PAIN RELIEF AT LAST FOR RAFA

Nadal might have been similarly dominant in his prior matches but revealed after beating Norrie he is only now feeling fitter.

"No, the back was not getting better each day; it was getting better today," he said. "But today is better, yeah, the first day I feel an improvement, and that's the most important thing for me today, more than any other thing.

"Of course, I was not serving my normal serve for the last 15 days. Today is the first day that I started to serve again my normal serve.

"But yesterday I didn't practice, so today was just warming up with the new, normal movement.

"So, of course, I didn't serve bad, but I can do better, I think. And I'm looking forward to doing it better. It has been an important victory for me.

"The biggest victory is the back is better for the first day. That's the most important thing."

Nadal will face Fabio Fognini next after he ended Australia's interest in the home grand slam with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over Alex De Minaur, the host nation's final hope.

"It's one of those matches," an impressed De Minaur said. "You're out there leaving it all out there, but you can just feel that he's playing at another level."
 

MOODY MEDVEDEV MAKES AMENDS

There are three Russian men in the last 16 for the first time in Melbourne in the Open Era, but the country's biggest name survived a major scare.

Daniil Medvedev was cruising after taking the first two sets against Filip Krajinovic, only to drop the next two and engage in an angry back-and-forth with coach Gilles Cervara.

Cervara eventually left Medvedev's box as the fourth seed trailed 4-1 in the fourth set and did not return, but the 25-year-old recovered to get the job done in dominant fashion, a 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-0 victor.

Medvedev, with Mackenzie McDonald next, said of the incident with Cervara: "He said just before leaving that he's sure I'm going to win the match, but he's going to leave to let me be more calm.

"Sometimes maybe I will disagree but this time for sure it was a good thing to do.

"Today it helped, and definitely we're going to talk about it a little bit, but there is not a big deal."

Andrey Rublev joined Medvedev and compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round as he improved to 7-0 for the year with a three-set defeat of Feliciano Lopez. He will play Casper Ruud.
 

HISTORY CHANNEL OVER CHAMP

Defending champion Novak Djokovic's struggles with injury on Friday might have intrigued much of the tennis public, but Stefanos Tsitsipas was not overly concerned.

The fifth seed, who breezed past Mikael Ymer, did not watch the match and revealed he has little interest in keeping up with the exploits of his rivals.

"I might watch [Djokovic and Nadal] a little bit on TV if it happens that the TV is on or the right channel is on," he said. "Otherwise I just switch to History Channel.

"Definitely not tennis history. I think I have enough of tennis being in here every single day."

Tsitsipas will next play Matteo Berrettini, who is enjoying his best run at the Australian Open and saw off a side complaint to advance in three sets by edging Karen Khachanov, another Russian, in a trio of tie-breakers.

Related items

  • Osaka withdraws from Indian Wells after US Open collapse Osaka withdraws from Indian Wells after US Open collapse

    Former world number one Naomi Osaka unsurprisingly withdrew from next month's Indian Wells Masters, having flagged a break from tennis following her US Open meltdown.

    The tournament confirmed 2018 champion Osaka's absence on Wednesday, with the Indian Wells Masters scheduled to take place from October 4-17 after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Osaka's US Open title defence came crashing down in a remarkable 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 third-round capitulation at the hands of eventual finalist Leylah Fernandez earlier this month.

    Up a set and serving for the match at 6-5 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, four-time major champion Osaka lost her cool and composure after throwing her racquet three times in an unsuccessful second-set tie-break.

    Amid boos in New York, Japanese star Osaka was also warned after hitting a ball into the crowd at Flushing Meadows.

    After the surprise exit, Osaka told reporters she planned to "take a break from playing for a while."

    She added: "I feel like for me recently, like, when I win I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal. I didn't really want to cry.

    "I feel like… this is very hard to articulate. I feel like I'm kind of at this point where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match [tearing up]. Sorry."

    It comes following a difficult couple of months due to mental health concerns as a result of "long bouts of depression" since winning the 2018 US Open.

    Osaka withdrew from May's French Open having won her first-round match, after she was fined and threatened with further punishment – and possible expulsion from the grand slam – for skipping obligatory media duties.

    She subsequently pulled out of Wimbledon before returning for the Olympic Games, though she suffered a surprise loss on home soil in Tokyo and was reduced to tears during a news conference in Cincinnati.

     

  • Murray building confidence after reaching Moselle quarters Murray building confidence after reaching Moselle quarters

    Andy Murray is building confidence after he claimed back-to-back wins for the first time since Wimbledon by defeating Vasek Pospisil at the Moselle Open.

    Murray followed up Tuesday's triumph against Ugo Humbert with a straight-sets victory over the Canadian, reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 success.

    The last eight will see Murray face either Lucas Pouille or top seed Hubert Hurkacz, who he lost to in Cincinnati last month.

    However, Murray has since played an exceptional five-setter with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open and the former world number one and three-time grand slam champion is feeling increasingly positive about his game.

    "This period has been the most tournaments I've played [recently] and my body feels good and I'm starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match," Murray said in his on-court interview. 

    "[I'm] starting to see the points and how I want to play them again, which is great. There have been times in the past year where I've been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing and stuff, which for me was always a strong part of my game and it made me feel quite uncomfortable on the court when I was feeling that way.

    "I'm starting to get that back and the results are coming and my tennis is getting better."

    The two other last 16 matches saw second seed Pablo Carreno Busta defeat Mikael Ymer 7-5 6-2, while fifth seed Lorenzo Sonego fell victim to a comeback from teenager Holger Rune, who prevailed 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4.

    Pouille came from behind to set up his clash with Hurkacz with a three-set win over qualifier Brayden Schnur, and Peter Gojowczyk was victorious in another first-round match.

    At the Astana Open, defending champion John Millman came through a marathon match with Jaume Munar to reach the quarter-finals. The Australian took victory 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 after three hours and nine minutes.

    Seventh seed Laslo Djere needed three sets to see off Lorenzo Musetti but eighth seed Ilya Ivashka had little difficulty beating Timofey Skatov in straight sets.

    There were also wins for James Duckworth, Kwon Soon-woo, Emil Ruusuvuori and Carlos Taberner.

  • Favourite Swiatek through as Badosa crashes out of Ostrava Open Favourite Swiatek through as Badosa crashes out of Ostrava Open

    Iga Swiatek coasted through to the quarter-finals of the Ostrava Open after defeating Yulia Putintseva as Paula Badosa faltered against Anett Kontaveit.

    Favourite Swiatek provided an astute performance to ease past Putintseva 6-4 6-4 to secure a potential quarter-final tie with Elena Rybakina.

    Petra Kvitova, who is second seed in Croatia, did not enjoy as comfortable a victory but battled past Anastasia Potapova 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 to confirm her last-eight berth.

    The ninth ranked Badosa, however, was not as fortunate as she was dumped out by Kontaveit, who cruised to a 6-3 6-4 win over the world number 27 in just over an hour.

    Jelena Ostapenko set up a last-16 clash with fourth seed Maria Sakkari as she defeated Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-0, while Alison Riske recovered from a second-set setback to defeat Fiona Ferro 6-4 1-6 6-4.

    Riske will now meet Jil Teichmann, who shocked former world number one Angelique Kerber, and whoever wins will be rewarded with a tie against world number 10 Kvitova.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.