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Australian Open | Nadal and Zverev cruise into 3R

Rafa Nadal has reached the third round in Melbourne and is on track for his 21st grand slam title which he would achieve if he retains his current form to captures his second in Australia.

I don't have big pressure on my shoulders, honestly. I don't feel it. The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing again, then give my best as I did during all my tennis career. Rafa Nadal

Despite seeing four match points saved by qualifier Yannick Haufmann, the Spaniard eased through on the Rod Laver Arena 6-2 6-3 6-4 after two hours and 42-minutes.

“I think he played great tennis out there, playing very aggressive, big shots,’ said Nadal.
“It wasn’t an easy game at all.”

Seeded six, Nadal is the only player in the main draw to have won the Australian title (2009) and to date, is unbeaten on the tour this season after returning from a five-month layoff with a foot injury.

He may not be the favourite for this year’s title but cannot be discounted.

“I think I am doing things well,” Nadal added. “Things that I can improve I have to improve. I want to keep going in the tournament. But winning today allows me to practise again tomorrow, to be ready for another match. After two matches it’s the moment to make a step forward.

“I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the fact that I’m going to be playing in a third round for one more time here after all the things I am going through.

“I don’t have big pressure on my shoulders, honestly. I don’t feel it. The pressure is only to stay healthy and to enjoy the fact that I am competing again, then give my best as I did during all my tennis career.”

Nadal faces next the 28th seed Karen Khachanov after the Russian beat France’s Benjamin Bonzi 6-4 6-0 7-5.

Also joining Nadal in round three is Carlos Alcaraz, his 18 year-old compatriot who is the youngest player since Bernard Tomic 11 years ago, to reach this stage.

The teenager eased past Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-1 7-5 to book a third-round meeting with Matteo Berrettini, the seventh seed who has recovered sufficiently from a stomach illness to dismiss American wild card Stefan Kozlov 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1.


Matteo Berrettini is recovering from an upset stomach

Andy Cheung/Getty Images

Last year Berrettini was forced by an abdominal injury, to concede a walkover to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round but hopefully his health will hold out this year for the powerful Italian.

“It’s better,” Berrettini reported when asked how his stomach was during his post-match interview. “Any worse and it would be tough. It’s definitely better.

“It’s never easy to recover from something like that. That’s why my energy wasn’t the highest I ever had but today was important to win and I did it.”

If anything, it was Kozlov who appeared to suffer physically, with cramp, in the deciding set.

“It was a really tough match,” said Berrettini, “I think I started pretty well and then he started playing better. I wasn’t feeling my strokes as the first set. I had to fight through.”

He will also have another, and possibly tougher, match against Alcaraz in the next round, with the teenager aiming to break into the top 20 or even higher, this year.

Seeded 31 his rise is being compared very much to Nadal Even his appearance in a sleeveless shirt as the Mallorcan did when he first appeared on the tour.


Alexander Zverev dashed Aussie hopes

TPN/Getty Images

Alexander Zverev was another of the possible contenders to ease past their second-round opponents. The German third seed swept past Australia’s John Millman 6-4 6-4 6-0 6-4 to set up a meeting with Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot who beat wild card 6-4 7-6(4) 6-4.

“I feel good, I won” the 24-year-old Zverev said. “It was an amazing atmosphere, and hopefully it will stay the same and get even louder for the next matches.”

Meanwhile in other action Denis Shapovalov delivered 29 aces to win a bruising four and-a-half-hour battle with Soonwoo Kwon 7-6(6) 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 6-2.

“Probably going to sleep in the ice bath tonight,” an exhausted Shapovalov, who endured a three-and-a-half-hour clash in his opening round, said.

He will need the rest as his next hurdle is the giant Reilly Opelka, the 6-4 6-3 7-6(4) winner over Dominik Koepfer.

Aslan Karatsev, last week’s Sydney champion, who was kept on court for some five hours before eventually defeating Jaume Munar in his opening match, came back from a set down to defeat American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-3, hitting 43 winners and 45 unforced errors.

Much was expected of Hubert Hurkacz but he fell disappointingly in just under two hours, to Adrian Mannarino, 6-4 6-2 6-3 who goes on to play Karatsev next.

American Sebastian Korda, who ousted British number one Cameron Norrie in the first round, battled past France’s Corentin Moutet to reach the third round.

Korda prevailed 3-6 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 7-6(6), after Moutet saved two match points to force a tie-break.

Korda will play Spain’s 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, a 6-3 6-7(6) 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4 winner over Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.




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