Australian Open: Nadal blazes into Round 4 with Murray, Federer
World number one Rafael Nadal played his best match of the tournament to join title-contenders Andy Murray and Roger Federer in the fourth round at the Australian Open on Saturday.sports Updated: Jan 18, 2014 18:24 IST
World number one Rafael Nadal played his best match of the tournament to join title-contenders Andy Murray and Roger Federer in the fourth round at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Spaniard was relentless in dispatching French 25th seed Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in just over two hours in a dynamic night performance at the Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal will next play Kei Nishikori in the round of 16 after the Japanese star ousted American Donald Young in straight sets.
"Gael is always a big test, he's a great player, but I think today I played my best match in the tournament so far, so very happy for that," Nadal said.
The top seed is bidding to win his second Australian Open title and become only the third man to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice, after Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.
Murray, a three-time Melbourne finalist, tossed aside Spanish 26th seed Feliciano Lopez in straight sets and Grand Slam record-holder Federer also did it in regulation sets over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Murray, the British fourth seed, extended his dominance of Spanish left-hander Lopez to 8-0 with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours 15 minutes at the Hisense Arena.
The Scot will next play French journeyman Stephane Robert, who is the first-ever 'lucky loser' to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open.
Federer, chasing his fifth Australian crown, made the round of 16 at Melbourne for the 13th straight year after an unruffled 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over the unseeded Gabashvili in one hour 41 minutes.
It was his 71st match victory at Melbourne Park, extending his record at the Australian Open, and set up a clash against 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Tsonga needed only three sets to get past fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-2 in one hour 53 minutes in a night match at the Hisense Arena.
Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, said he was over the back pain that dogged him last year and was in good shape heading into the second week, with battles looming against his main rivals.
"Right now I feel very fresh and very good physically," Federer said.
"That's why I do a lot of prevention work. You make sure you sleep enough and do all these things. You eat healthy and so forth. But it's been a good spell now.
"I didn't have any setbacks since Hamburg (last July) really, and that's very good looking forward."
It was a confident Federer performance against the 79th-ranked Russian as the stylish Swiss looks to become the second man after Roy Emerson to win five Australian Open singles titles.
Murray, who had back surgery in September, briefly appeared in pain early in the first set against Lopez, but through the match he moved unhindered to progress through to the last 16.
Robert, ranked 119, failed to come through qualifying but was handed a spot at the tournament when Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out injured.
On Saturday, he beat fellow lucky loser Martin Klizan 6-0, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4. It was the first Grand Slam third round match between two lucky losers since Wimbledon in 1973.
"I'm very happy. You know, it's not a dream because I lost in the qualies (qualifiers), but now after I got this opportunity, now I'm really in the tournament," Robert said.
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov also won through to the fourth round and a meeting with Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut after ousting Canadian power-server Milos Raonic in four sets.
Bautista Agut continued his winning run with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over French 27th seed Benoit Paire.