Rafael Nadal yesterday survived an epic 28-minute tiebreak to seal his spot in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, while top seed Ashleigh Barty joined him with victory over giant-killer Amanda Anisimova.
Nadal would next face Canada’s 14th seed Denis Shapovalov after he stunned third seed and Olympic champion Alexander Zverev — who said “everything” went wrong.
Nadal, who is chasing a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, was pushed all the way by Adrian Mannarino in an 81-minute first set before breaking the Frenchman’s resolve in a 7-6 (16/14), 6-2, 6-2 victory.
“First set was very emotional,” said the 35-year-old Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, who pumped his fists after emerging victorious from a marathon first-set tiebreak on a steamy day in Melbourne. “That crazy first set was so important.”
The Spaniard, who dropped a set for the first time in the tournament before powering past Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the previous round, is to play Shapovalov in the last eight.
The 22-year-old Shapovalov — who tested positive for COVID-19 when he landed in Australia earlier this month — left Zverev still searching for a first major title after beating him 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
The German smashed his racket and afterward failed to find any positives.
“Today, in my opinion, was just awful from my side,” he said.
Asked by reporters what went wrong, he replied: “Everything.”
In the women’s draw, home hope and world No. 1 Barty thrilled the crowd by defeating 60th-ranked Anisimova 6-4, 6-3. The Australian faces another American, Jessica Pegula, in the last eight.
The 20-year-old Anisimova beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and was fresh from knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka, but she came up against a Barty who looks in irresistible form as she chases her first Australian Open crown.
The 21st-seeded Pegula, who revealed earlier this week she has been relaxing by spending every night at the casino, was a surprise winner over fifth seed Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Also into the last eight is French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
She blew away former two-time Melbourne champion Victoria Azarenka, who had a neck problem, to set up a meeting with unseeded American Madison Keys.
Keys raced past Spain’s Paula Badosa, seeded eight, 6-3, 6-1.
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