Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Italy's Fabio Fognini during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)(AP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Italy's Fabio Fognini during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)(AP)

Bad back? What bad back? Rafael Nadal rolls to 43rd Slam QF

So far, he hasn't dropped a set through four matches, moving into his 13th quarterfinal at Melbourne Park and 43rd in all at major championships with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 16 seed Fabio Fognini on Monday.
AP, Melbourne
PUBLISHED ON FEB 15, 2021 02:35 PM IST

So much for the thought that Rafael Nadal's bad back might hold him back at the Australian Open as he tries to break a tie with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam singles titles won by a man.

Win three more matches this week, and Nadal will be the only one with 21.

So far, he hasn't dropped a set through four matches, moving into his 13th quarterfinal at Melbourne Park and 43rd in all at major championships with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 16 seed Fabio Fognini on Monday.

Take it further, to the start of last year's French Open, and Nadal has won his past 33 Grand Slam sets in a row.

He called the first set against Fognini “without a doubt” his “best level in the tournament.”

Why was that? Well, the 34-year-old Nadal offered a rather simple explanation: He came into the match finally having been able to practice for two days in a row, after having his work limited by the back pain that surfaced about three weeks ago.

Not that everything is perfect, mind you.

“My physical condition needs to keep improving,” Nadal said. “But I think this match helps, too. I was not able to practice the proper way for the last 19 days, but yesterday I started again to increase the amount of work (in) practice. And today has been a positive victory with some long points, so that helps for the next match.”

That'll be on Wednesday against No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who advanced when his fourth-round opponent, No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, pulled out of the tournament because of abdominal injury he picked up in his prior win.

Before Berrettini's withdrawal officially was announced, Nadal accidentally broke the news by telling the media he'd be facing Tsitsipas.

Nadal is 6-1 against the 22-year-old Tsitsipas, including a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 win for the Spaniard in the 2019 Australian Open semifinals.

The other quarterfinal on their half of the draw will be No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, the 2019 U.S. Open runner-up, against No. 7 Andrey Rublev in an all-Russian matchup between friends since childhood.

“Of course he knows my game. I know his game," said Rublev, who has lost all three tour-level meetings with Medvedev. "But in the end, you still need to ... see how the things are working or not working, how you’re feeling, and then you adapt.”

AVOIDING EXPECTATIONS

Serena Williams is performing a delicate balancing act at the Australian Open as she pursues a record-tying 24th major title.

Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, says Williams needs to think about what is in the offing — but not too much.

“The only way is not to think about the opportunities. Because when you think about the opportunities, you bring expectations, and we all know that expectations are not the best friend of the professional athletes,” Mouratoglou said. “The only way is to focus on how to get what you want. You don’t think about what you want. You just think about what you have to do."

Williams faces No. 2 Simona Halep in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The last time they played, in the 2019 Wimbledon final, Halep made just three unforced errors in a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

That part of a stretch in which Williams has gone 0-4 in Grand Slam title matches since claiming her most recent major singles trophy at the Australian Open in 2017 for No. 23, a record for the professional era.

Only Margaret Court, with 24 spanning the amateur and Open eras, has won more.

STRINGING ALONG

Paul McNamee, the former player and ex-CEO of the Australian Open, is now coaching quarterfinalist Hsieh Su-wei and recalls seeing her unusual, but precise, strokes go awry one day at a tournament in England.

He couldn't figure out what was going on — until he realized she had broken a racket string, something that almost never happens to her.

“We had a bit of trauma because she had to get a re-string before the tournament. That’s once a year,” he said. “Players change rackets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racket.”

McNamee said Taiwan's Hsieh, who is ranked 71st and faces Naomi Osaka on Tuesday at Melbourne Park, doesn’t have a racket contract. So she has to buy her own.

Whatever 35-year-old Hsieh has been doing at the Australian Open, she should stick with it. She is the oldest woman in the professional era to get to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)

Brady loses in 1st match since Australian Open in Doha

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:04 PM IST
Brady, who lost to Naomi Osaka in her first major final just over a week ago, made 25 unforced errors against her Estonian opponent.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)

Swiatek builds mental strength with Lego

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:53 PM IST
The 19-year-old Pole last year became the youngest woman to win the Roland Garros title since Monica Seles in 1992 and on Saturday picked up the second trophy of her career at the Adelaide International.
Close
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)

Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:34 PM IST
The 19-year-old qualifier beat Spain's world number 47 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 2-6 6-2 in the final of the claycourt tournament.
Close
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)

Sania Mirza ready to rebuild after Covid-19 recovery

By Rutvick Mehta, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:41 PM IST
  • India’s former world doubles No.1 looks at her season ahead with Tokyo Olympics an added motivation.
Close
Alexei Popyrin of Australia holds the winner's trophy. (Getty Images)
Alexei Popyrin of Australia holds the winner's trophy. (Getty Images)

Popyrin fights back to win maiden ATP title in Singapore

Reuters, Singapore
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:10 PM IST
  • Popyrin fired 11 aces and broke serve five times to hand fourth seed Bublik his fourth defeat in a final.
Close
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)

AITA asks age fraud suspects to produce TW3 tests ahead of Nationals

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:35 PM IST
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)

French Open winner Swiatek beats Bencic in Adelaide final

AP, Adelaide
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 03:39 PM IST
The 19-year-old Polish player did not drop a set in five matches and lost just 22 games all week.
Close
Gilles Simon(Twitter)
Gilles Simon(Twitter)

French veteran Gilles Simon taking a break from tennis tour

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:50 PM IST
The 36-year-old Frenchman wrote on Twitter on Friday that mental health is also a concern.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek hits a return against Switzerland's Jil Teichmann during their women's singles semi-final match at the Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on February 26, 2021. (Photo by Brenton EDWARDS / AFP)(AFP)
Poland's Iga Swiatek hits a return against Switzerland's Jil Teichmann during their women's singles semi-final match at the Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on February 26, 2021. (Photo by Brenton EDWARDS / AFP)(AFP)

French Open champion Iga Swiatek into WTA Adelaide final

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:46 PM IST
The fifth-seeded Swiatek will next play the winner of the semifinal between second-seeded Belinda Bencic and 16-year-old American Coco Gauff.
Close
Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Singles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks to the crowd holding the runners up trophy after losing his final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake(REUTERS)
Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Singles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks to the crowd holding the runners up trophy after losing his final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake(REUTERS)

Medvedev gets another shot at No.2 ranking after Nadal pullout

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:18 PM IST
Medvedev rose to a career high third in the ATP rankings on Monday after finishing runner-up to world number one Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. He would have moved above Nadal had he beaten the Serbian.
Close
Argentina's former tennis world number three David Nalbandian
Argentina's former tennis world number three David Nalbandian

Chasing pack need to believe they can topple 'Big Three' - Nalbandian

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:31 AM IST
Russian Daniil Medvedev looked closest to ending the Grand Slam hegemony of the 'Big Three' when he cantered into the Australian Open final on a 20-match winning streak that included 12 straight wins over top-10 opponents.
Close
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Jaimi Joy(REUTERS)
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Jaimi Joy(REUTERS)

Nadal pulls out of Rotterdam Open with back issue

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 08:59 PM IST
The 20-time Grand Slam winner has been struggling with a back issue since the build-up to the Australian Open and was forced to skip Spain's ATP Cup ties earlier this month.
Close
Coco Gauff of the US (AFP)
Coco Gauff of the US (AFP)

Coco Gauff advances to semifinals at Adelaide International

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 05:41 PM IST
Gauff has won five straight matches in Adelaide, including two in qualifying, since her second-round loss to fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open. She and Rogers had an extended rally in the ninth game of the third set, which Gauff won after setting up game point with a cross-court return.
Close
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Czech Republic's Karolína Muchova in action during her quarter final match against Australia's Ashleigh Barty REUTERS/Kelly Defina(REUTERS)
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Czech Republic's Karolína Muchova in action during her quarter final match against Australia's Ashleigh Barty REUTERS/Kelly Defina(REUTERS)

No. 1 Barty loses at Adelaide International; Gauff into QFs

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:14 PM IST
  • Barty has stayed at No. 1 in the rankings despite not having played much at all in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Close
United States' Coco Gauff: File Photo(AP)
United States' Coco Gauff: File Photo(AP)

Coco Gauff advances to Adelaide International quarterfinals

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 04:47 PM IST
The 16-year-old American beat sixth-seeded Petra Martic 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the hard-court tournament at Memorial Drive.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP