With U.S Open winner Carlos Alcaraz of Spain withdrawing due to an injury, his compatriot Rafael Nadal has been given the top billing in the men's singles draw in the Australian Open, starting in a few days.
Although it was far from easy, all the big names like Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov and Caroline Wozniacki made it through to the quarter-finals, with the Day 7 action providing some great contests for the 63,000 fans in attendance at the Australian Open.
With a final score of 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-3, you might think that World No.1 Nadal had a comfortable 4-set victory over Argentinian Diego Schwartzman. However the Spaniard was pushed to the limit during the match and had to fight hard for every game, reports Xinhua news agency.
In the end, the precision of the 16-time Grand Slam winner, was enough to get Nadal into the remaining eight.
“He is a great player in all aspects and he was serving well,” Nadal said in praise of Schwartzman.
“This was the first big match I have played in 2018 and I was able to fight until the end.”
“A match like this probably helps because it builds confidence in knowing that I can resist almost four hours on court playing at a good intensity.”
It was a similar story for World No.3 Dimitrov, when he faced home crowd favourite Nick Kyrgios.
But the gripping, nail biting battle, was made even more tense when officials controversially called the Australian for several foot faults.
Eventually, the Bulgarian was able to survive the power serve of Kyrgios and take the victory 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3).
“Playing against Nick is always tricky. He deserves a lot of credit. He fought really hard,” Dimitrov said after the win.
In the other matches, sixth seed Marin Cilic got past Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets and England’s Kyle Edmund continued his dream run at the tournament by overcoming Andrea Seppi. Edmund won 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to book a place in the last-8 round in a Grand Slam for the first time.
Cilic of Croatia prevailed 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (9-7) to register his 100th Grand Slam career match win, securing him a place in the quarter-finals of a major for the 11th time, reports Efe.
“This is a beautiful (landmark) and I hope I can gather three more here,” Cilic said after the match that lasted nearly three and a half hours.
In the women’s bracket, World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki cruised her way into the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.
Wozniacki, a former World No. 1, had not reached the last-8 round since 2012 when she lost to now retired Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
“Six years ago. It’s so long ago. All I can say is that I think I’m in a good place, I think I’m hitting the ball well and everything’s been going well in the last year-and-a-half. It’s been good,” Wozniacki said after the win.
World No.4 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine thrashed Denisa Allertova 6-3, 6-0, Belgium’s Elise Mertens got the better of Petra Martic 7-6(5), 7-5 and Carla Suarez Navarro edged out Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6.
“It’s more pressure but it gives you confidence,” Ukrainian star Svitolina said in reference to her possibly winning the Australian Open title as she is one of the favourites.