Rafael Nadal's bid to win a record 21st grand slam title remains on track, while there is a distinctly Russian flavour to the quarter-final line-up at the Australian Open.

World number two Nadal eased past Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini behind closed doors at Melbourne Park in sunny and warm conditions on Monday.

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev ensured Russia made history en route to the quarters in Melbourne.


FAMILIAR TERRITORY FOR NADAL

Nadal reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the 13th time in his career after outclassing Fognini 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

Stuck on 20 slam championships alongside Roger Federer, who is absent in Melbourne, Nadal is also looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four majors twice.

The 2009 Australian Open champion was too good for Fognini as Nadal continued his fine run of not dropping a set en route to the last eight in 2021.

Only at the French Open, where he is a 13-time champion, has Nadal reached the quarter-finals more often (14) than at the Australian Open. Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14) are the only men to have reached more Australian Open quarter-finals.

Nadal, who hit 24 winners against Fognini, will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-final after ninth seed Matteo Berrettini withdrew with an abdominal strain before Monday's showdown.

 

HISTORY FOR RUSSIA​

For the first time in the Open Era, three Russian men have advanced to the quarter-finals of a slam.

Medvedev – the fourth seed – and Rublev joined countryman Aslan Karatsev in the last eight following their respective triumphs on Monday.

Runner-up at the 2019 US Open, Medvedev made light work of American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-2 6-3, extending his winning streak to 18 matches as he reached his maiden Australian Open quarter-final.

"It's an exciting moment to be in the quarters in Australia for the first time. That's a great achievement for me," Medvedev said.

"I want more all the time, but step by step. So this is amazing … I finished at 1.30 [hours], which is important in the later stages of the grand slams, to make fast matches."

It will be an all-Russian affair in the quarters after seventh seed Rublev benefited from a walkover.

Rublev was leading 6-2 7-6 (7-3) when Norway's Casper Ruud retired on Margaret Court Arena.

"At least one of us will be in the semi-finals. So it's good news but yeah, it's going to be a tough match," said Rublev, who featured in last year's French Open quarter-finals.

"Last time he beat me in the quarters in the US Open. So now we're in the quarters in the Australian Open, so we'll see what's going to happen."

Rafael Nadal was able to offer a positive update on his fitness after easing into the second week at the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion is playing in his first tournament since November's ATP Finals and faced a battle to make the Melbourne major due to a back problem.

But Nadal has made the fourth round without dropping a set, seeing off Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-2 7-5 on Saturday.

"I did things well, [then there are] things that I need to improve. Something normal," the Spaniard said. "But, yes, happy, of course. Second week, straight sets. Can't complain."
 

PAIN RELIEF AT LAST FOR RAFA

Nadal might have been similarly dominant in his prior matches but revealed after beating Norrie he is only now feeling fitter.

"No, the back was not getting better each day; it was getting better today," he said. "But today is better, yeah, the first day I feel an improvement, and that's the most important thing for me today, more than any other thing.

"Of course, I was not serving my normal serve for the last 15 days. Today is the first day that I started to serve again my normal serve.

"But yesterday I didn't practice, so today was just warming up with the new, normal movement.

"So, of course, I didn't serve bad, but I can do better, I think. And I'm looking forward to doing it better. It has been an important victory for me.

"The biggest victory is the back is better for the first day. That's the most important thing."

Nadal will face Fabio Fognini next after he ended Australia's interest in the home grand slam with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over Alex De Minaur, the host nation's final hope.

"It's one of those matches," an impressed De Minaur said. "You're out there leaving it all out there, but you can just feel that he's playing at another level."
 

MOODY MEDVEDEV MAKES AMENDS

There are three Russian men in the last 16 for the first time in Melbourne in the Open Era, but the country's biggest name survived a major scare.

Daniil Medvedev was cruising after taking the first two sets against Filip Krajinovic, only to drop the next two and engage in an angry back-and-forth with coach Gilles Cervara.

Cervara eventually left Medvedev's box as the fourth seed trailed 4-1 in the fourth set and did not return, but the 25-year-old recovered to get the job done in dominant fashion, a 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-0 victor.

Medvedev, with Mackenzie McDonald next, said of the incident with Cervara: "He said just before leaving that he's sure I'm going to win the match, but he's going to leave to let me be more calm.

"Sometimes maybe I will disagree but this time for sure it was a good thing to do.

"Today it helped, and definitely we're going to talk about it a little bit, but there is not a big deal."

Andrey Rublev joined Medvedev and compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round as he improved to 7-0 for the year with a three-set defeat of Feliciano Lopez. He will play Casper Ruud.
 

HISTORY CHANNEL OVER CHAMP

Defending champion Novak Djokovic's struggles with injury on Friday might have intrigued much of the tennis public, but Stefanos Tsitsipas was not overly concerned.

The fifth seed, who breezed past Mikael Ymer, did not watch the match and revealed he has little interest in keeping up with the exploits of his rivals.

"I might watch [Djokovic and Nadal] a little bit on TV if it happens that the TV is on or the right channel is on," he said. "Otherwise I just switch to History Channel.

"Definitely not tennis history. I think I have enough of tennis being in here every single day."

Tsitsipas will next play Matteo Berrettini, who is enjoying his best run at the Australian Open and saw off a side complaint to advance in three sets by edging Karen Khachanov, another Russian, in a trio of tie-breakers.

Rafael Nadal was able to ease through to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, thanks in part to the help of YouTube.

The Spaniard looked in impressive form as he swept aside Michael Mmoh 6-1 6-4 6-2 in the evening session at Melbourne Park, with perhaps the biggest hinderance for Nadal caused by a rowdy spectator who was eventually escorted out of Rod Laver Arena.

Having come through qualifying, Mmoh had rallied to stun Viktor Troicki in the opening round. However, he never threatened a stunning upset of the 2009 champion, who will next face Cameron Norrie.

Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev marked his birthday with a routine win of his own, the in-form Russian stretching his unbeaten run to 16 matches to suggest he is a serious contender for the title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas found life a little tougher in his outing but while the Greek survived the scare to move on in the main draw, fellow seeds Borna Coric and Lorenzo Sonego were knocked out.


NO VIDEO NASTY FOR NADAL

Ever the consummate professional, Nadal revealed he did his research online to find out more about second-round foe Mmoh, who had to get through three qualifying rounds just to make the main draw.

The world number 177 managed more aces than the 2009 champion but failed to create a break-point opportunity in a contest that lasted one hour and 47 minutes. Like the fan who disturbed play by shouting and making gestures towards Nadal as he served for the second set, Mmoh perhaps knew he was heading for the exit.

"I always have a lot of respect for every opponent. Yesterday, I was watching some videos of him on YouTube, trying to know a little bit more about him," Nadal said in his on-court interview after the match.

"Every day when you go onto the court, anything can happen - you can win, you can lose. You need to be ready to accept both things."

Norrie is next for the 34-year-old, the Briton defeating qualifier Roman Safiullin in four sets.


NO TIME TO CELEBRATE FOR MEDVEDEV

While Roberto Carballes Baena offered some resistance in the second set, Medvedev provided a further demonstration of his obvious talent with a 6-2 7-5 6-1 thrashing of the Spaniard.

The fourth seed from Russia was on court for one hour and 44 minutes but insisted afterwards his focus will now switch to his next opponent - Filip Krajinovic - rather than celebrating turning 25.

"There's no time to celebrate my birthday in a tournament. I got presents from my wife, but I'll soon look to my next match," he said. "If I'd have lost, I probably would go and celebrate, but I won so I can't now."

Krajinovic defeated Pablo Andujar 6-2 5-7 6-1 6-4 to progress. He was triumphant in the only previous meeting with Medvedev on the ATP Tour, winning in straight sets when they went up against each other at Indian Wells in 2019.


TSITSIPAS FIGHTS LIKE LION, LOPEZ EXTENDS SLAM STREAK

Tsitsipas was stretched to the limit but came out on top against Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in a gruelling encounter.

Tsitsipas - who reached his maiden grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open two years ago - rallied from a set down to eventually see off Kokkinakis after four hours and 32 minutes.

Local hope Kokkinakis was playing his first major since the 2019 US Open and threatened a huge upset against the fifth seed.

"Great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion," said Tsitsipas, who next meets Mikael Ymer. "I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirits."

In his 75th consecutive grand slam, 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez came from two sets down to top 31st seed Sonego 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Fabio Fognini was involved in a thrilling five-setter against Salvatore Caruso, which ended with the pair engaging in a tense verbal exchange that led to security intervening.

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