After 10 years, my girlfriend gets a wild card to come at AUS Open: Rafael Nadal | tennis | Hindustan Times
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After 10 years, my girlfriend gets a wild card to come at AUS Open: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal returned to the grand slam big-time by fending off Gael Monfils 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4 in a tense clash on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

tennis Updated: Jan 23, 2017 19:56 IST
HT Correspondent
Rafael Nadal reached the Australian Open quarters with girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello cheering him on from the stands.
Rafael Nadal reached the Australian Open quarters with girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello cheering him on from the stands.(AFP)

It was an emotional moment for Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday as he reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2015. The occasion was made extra special by the presence of his long-time girlfriend - Maria Francisca Perello.

The ninth seed Spaniard defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 at the Rod Laver Arena in almost three hours. He will face Milos Raonic as a clash with Roger Federer looms large. (HIGHLIGHTS)

Maria Francisca Perello, who has been dating Nadal since 2005, was present in the stands during his boyfriend’s hard fought victory and the 14-times Grand Slam winner made it a point to mention her in the post-match interview.

When the interviewer noted this is the first time in 10 trips to the Australian Open that Nadal had brought his girlfriend with him, the Spaniard replied, “After 10 years finally, my girlfriend gets a wild card to come here.”

It was Rafael Nadal’s first win over a top-10 player at a Grand Slam since he defeated number two Novak Djokovic to win the title at Roland Garros in 2014, his last major win.

READ | Rafael Nadal survives Gael Monfils fightback to reach Australian Open quarters

“I’m very happy being in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam after a couple of years without being there,” he said.

“I start the season playing quarter-finals in a Grand Slam again, especially on hard court after a couple of years without being in this round which is great news.”

He also appreciated his opponent Gael Monfils’ resilience even when he was trailing by two sets.

Maria Francisca Perello , girlfriend of Spain's Rafael Nadal, uses a smartphone during his men's singles third round match against Gael Monfils at the Australian Open. (AFP)

“Gael is a special player. He is able to play unbelievable shots. It is a pleasure to see him in the top rankings,” Nadal said.

“Sometimes it’s tough to play against Gael when you don’t know what he’s going to do. He combines mistakes with great shots.”

Rafael Nadal will now face Milos Raonic against whom he enjoys a 6-2 lead in their previous meetings.