• Sunday, May 09, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:52 pm

Nadal closes on Slams record, Barty raises home hopes

  • Published at 08:35 pm February 15th, 2021
Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns against the USA's Shelby Rogers during their Australian Open last 16 match in Melbourne Monday AFP

Barty won 6-3, 6-4 to go into the quarter-final without dropping a set as she bids to become the first Australian champion since O'Neil in 1978

Rafael Nadal outclassed Fabio Fognini to close in on the all-time Grand Slam titles record Monday as Ashleigh Barty ramped up hopes of becoming the Australian Open's first home winner in 43 years.

Nadal said his lower-back stiffness was continuing to improve after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 against the flamboyant Italian, which set up a quarter-final against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Fognini had registered a five-set win over Nadal at the 2015 US Open, but the Spaniard cantered to victory after recovering from 2-4 down in the second set.

Nadal is now into his 43rd Grand Slam quarter-final, staying on course for a title match with eight-time winner Novak Djokovic who battled through an abdominal injury to reach the last eight Sunday.

Nadal is level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles.

Next up for Nadal is world No 6 Tsitsipas, who went through on a walkover after Italy's Matteo Berrettini pulled out with an abdominal strain.

Eight-time winner Novak Djokovic fought through what he had described as a tournament-ending injury to beat Milos Raonic and reach the Australian Open quarter-final Sunday.

Posted by Sports Tribune on Sunday, 14 February 2021

The Melbourne tournament remained fan-free for a third day Monday during a five-day lockdown in Victoria state to curb a coronavirus outbreak.

As the action continued in front of empty stands, top-ranked Barty beat big-hitting American Shelby Rogers in impressive fashion to reach the last eight.

Barty won 6-3, 6-4 to go into the quarter-final without dropping a set as she bids to become the first Australian champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

Barty hit 21 winners. 

The former French Open champion next plays Karolina Muchova, who came through two tight sets to beat Belgium's Elise Mertens 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

Earlier, unseeded American Jessica Pegula reached her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with victory over Elina Svitolina, her first over a top-10 player.

Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a record 21st Grand Slam title at a fan-free Australian Open Saturday as Ashleigh Barty gave locked-down Melbourne something to cheer.

Posted by Sports Tribune on Saturday, 13 February 2021

Pegula, whose billionaire father owns the Buffalo Bills NFL team, overcame fifth seed Svitolina 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to set up a meeting with fellow American Jennifer Brady, a 6-1, 7-5 winner against Croatia's Donna Vekic.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Daniil Medvedev and seventh seed Andrey Rublev both won to ensure an all-Russian quarter-final.

Medvedev, the 2019 US Open runner-up, blew away American world No 192 Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to extend his winning streak to 18 matches.

Rublev, who is also unbeaten this year, went through when Norway's Casper Ruud retired after losing the first two sets.

The 22-year-old Norwegian had reached the last 16 at a Slam for the first time - emulating his father, Christian, who achieved the same feat at the 1997 Australian Open.

With qualifier Aslan Karatsev already through to face Grigor Dimitrov in the top half of the draw, it means there will be three Russian men in the last eight of a Slam for the first time since the Open era began in 1968.

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