Melbourne – World No. 2 Rafael Nadal beat old nemesis Fabio Fognini in a scrappy affair at the Australian Open on Monday to reach his 43rd Grand Slam quarterfinal.
The Spaniard, hoping to win his first title at Melbourne Park since 2009, has yet to drop a set and kept that record intact against the fiery Italian, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal reached the quarterfinals in Australia for the 13th time, moving into a tie for third on the all-time list behind only Roger Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14).
The win keeps Nadal on track for a clash against top seed Novak Djokovic in the final. The Serbian, who is suffering from an abdominal injury, reached his 12th quarterfinal by beating Milos Raonic on Sunday evening.
“Happy to be in the quarterfinal, positive start,” said Nadal, who can take sole ownership of the record for Grand Slam titles if he manages to claim his 21st in Australia. He currently shares the mark with Federer.
“When you play round of 16 against a great player like Fabio, they are always fighting. You can’t expect to go on court and not have some problems facing these types of players.”
Nadal will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday. Tsitsipas advanced after Matteo Berrettini withdrew from their match due to an abdominal strain.
Russian Daniil Medvedev solidified his status as a title contender by brushing aside Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time and extend his winning streak to 18 matches.
Medvedev will play compatriot Andrey Rublev for a spot in his third Grand Slam semifinal after the seventh seed was gifted a place in the quarterfinals, also for the first time, when Casper Ruud retired injured.
“At least one of us will be in semis, that’s good news,” said Rublev, who was leading 6-2 7-6 (7-3) when Ruud called it quits.
On the women’s side, Jessica Pegula continued her dream run with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarterfinal against Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets.
World No. 61 Pegula has been one of the surprise packages in the women’s draw, beating 12th seed Victoria Azarenka in her opening match before racing into the fourth round with wins over Sam Stosur and Kristina Mladenovic.
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