World no.2 Rafael Nadal defeated old nemesis Fabio Fognini in a one-sided affair at the Australian Open to reach his 43rd Grand Slam quarter-final.
The Spaniard, bidding for a first title at Melbourne Park since 2009, is yet to drop a set and kept the record intact against the fiery Italian, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. It is the 13th time he has made the last eight in Australia, moving to joint third on the all-time list behind only Roger Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14).
“Happy to be in the quarter-final, positive start,” said Nadal in the post-match interview.
Rafael Nadal says that he prefers to play in the day rather than night
Nadal owned a 12-4 advantage over flamboyant Fognini dating back to 2013 coming into the clash and, despite some lower back tightness, he looked sharp.
But it wasn’t vintage tennis from the 34-year-old. He didn’t serve at his best but returned well, creating 19 break points chances, although he only put away six of them, with just 24 winners to the Italian’s 32.
“When you go on court against Fabio you worry,” said Nadal. “There can always be problems. I was just lucky that when he broke me [in the second set] I responded immediately and held the score. Today was very humid and quicker during the day, which I like, but I have to adapt to every condition.”
“Stefanos and Matteo are both young, strong and have a lot of energy,” said Nadal. “It will be a big challenge and today’s win was good for my confidence. I will need to be ready. My back is holding up and tomorrow’s practice will be important preparation.”
Next up, he plays Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece who got a walkover in his QF match against Matteo Berrettini.