Nadal digs in against Zverev, Monfils and Raonic advance

By Tom Webber 21 January 2017
Nadal digs in against Zverev, Monfils and Raonic advance

Alexander Zverev lived up to his lofty pre-match billing from Rafael Nadal, but it was not enough to prevent the Spaniard from reaching the Austrlain Open fourth round with a 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 win.

Zverev was tipped as a future world number one by Nadal but failed see out a lead of two sets to one as the 14-time major winner used all his experience to haul himself level and come out on top after trailing 3-1 in the fifth.

Gael Monfils will be next up for Nadal after the Frenchman downed Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4, with David Goffin also dispatching of Ivo Karlovic in straight sets after just one hour and 27 minutes.

Milos Raonic proved too good for Gilles Simon in a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 victory and Dominic Thiem defeated Benoit Paire 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-4, with Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Istomin – the conqueror of Novak Djokovic – also advancing.

 

NADAL FIGHTS BACK FROM THE BRINK

A third-set tie-break swung between Nadal and Zverev before the German secured a crucial break to take a 6-5 lead, which he capitalised on to lead.

But Nadal's resilience shone through, the Spaniard quickly moving 2-0 up in the fourth before coming out on top in a pivotal fifth game in the decider.

Zverev staved off four break points but dropped his serve three times as the ninth seed completed the win to set up a fourth-round meeting with Monfils.

RAONIC, MONFILS ADVANCE

Monfils had no trouble booking his place in the last 16, the world number six comfortably seeing off Kohlschreiber.

Nadal acknowledged that he will need to be on top form against the Frenchman when they meet in the last 16, saying: "He's playing great. He had an amazing year last year. He started the season again playing very well. I need to play my best."

Things were not quite as routine for Raonic against Simon. After breezing through the opening set and winning a tie-break in a close-fought second, the Canadian dropped his serve twice after moving 3-2 up in the third.

Simon could not maintain his intensity, though, and Raonic was not to be denied a fourth-round meeting with Bautista Agut.

 

C'mon

A photo posted by Milos Raonic (@mraonic) on

ISTOMIN THROUGH ANOTHER MARATHON

Istomin sprung the surprise of the tournament when he overcame world number two and defending champion Djokovic in five sets in the second round on Thursday.

The Uzbek needed almost three-and-a-half hours to see of Pablo Carreno Busta, but lengthy matches do not appear to faze him.

"I remember I played at Wimbledon [in 2010]. I beat [Stan] Wawrinka in five sets, then Rainer Schuttler five sets, then I lost to [Tomas] Berdych five sets. It was a good experience.

"It's not surprising this time, as well. I play a lot of Davis Cup matches. The five-set matches I really like in my mind always, so it's okay."

SLEEPLESS IN MELBOURNE

It was not ideal for Dimitrov or Richard Gasquet to take to Rod Laver Arena as it was approaching midnight local time.

The Bulgarian made swift work of his opponent, though, completing a 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory by 02:00 to set up a meeting with Istomin in the next round.

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Tom Webber

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