Sports

Relieved Rafa survives test as Dimitrov ousts Kyrgios

Monday, January 22, 2018

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Rafael Nadal battled through a huge test to make his 10th Australian Open quarter-final yesterday as Grigor Dimitrov ousted Nick Kyrgios to join him and Caroline Wozniacki kicked into top gear.

On an overcast and muggy day at Melbourne Park, the Spanish world number one was up against his most dangerous opponent yet in pocket-rocket Diego Schwartzman, one of the smallest men on tour.

The Argentine 24th seed endeared with his astonishingly powerful groundstrokes before Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 in almost four hours on Rod Laver Arena.

It kept alive his push for a 17th Grand Slam title and also ensured he will remain number one when the new rankings come out after the tournament.

He will play sixth seed Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the Croat beat Spanish 10th seed Pablo Correna Busta 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/3).

The win was Cilic's 100th at a Grand Slam.

Ordinarily Nadal, as the top seed, would have top billing on Rod Laver in the evening, but not with local star Kyrgios in action.

The maturing Australian 22-year-old pushed world number three Dimitrov close in a hugely entertaining four- setter before succumbing 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).

His reward is a showdown with Briton Kyle Edmund, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy's Andreas Seppi.

World number two Wozniacki turned on the style in her match to take another step towards a maiden Grand Slam title.

The assured Wozniacki, a semi-finalist in 2011 who has never quite lived up to the hype in the majors, annihilated 19th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 in her most impressive performance to date.

Her easy passage sets up a last-eight clash with gritty Spaniard Suarez Navarro, who battled back from a set and 4-1 down to shatter the hopes of 32nd seed Anett Kontaviet.

The Estonian had been bubbling with confidence after despatching French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, but nerves got the better of her.

The Spaniard, who has made the quarter-finals in Melbourne twice before, most recently in 2016, credited her fightback with a conscious decision to be more aggressive.

The 37th-ranked Elise Mertens also made the last eight, becoming the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to get so far in Australia.

She posted a straight-sets win over Croat Petra Martic and will now play fourth seed Elina Svitolina, who swept past Czech qualifier Denisa Allertova in two easy sets.

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