Elina Svitolina gave birth to her and husband Gael Monfils' first child on Saturday.

The couple, who married in July 2021, have announced the arrival of daughter Skai Monfils.

Former world number three Svitolina and two-time grand slam semi-finalist Monfils announced last May they were expecting a baby girl.

Svitolina posted on Instagram on Saturday: "Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Skai Monfils.

"Can't thank enough my husband to live [through] this unforgettable moment with me."

Monfils wrote on social media: "I had the most amazing night of my life, which ended with the most beautiful gift around 6.00am.

"Elina was strong and brave. I can't [thank] enough my wife and God for this special moment. Welcome to the world my little princess Skai."

Nick Kyrgios set up a mouth-watering second-round showdown against world number one Daniil Medvedev after defeating Argentina's Sebastian Baez 6-4 6-4 in his opening match of the Canadian Open on Tuesday.

The in-form Kyrgios is coming off his first ATP singles title since 2019 after winning the Washington Open this past week, where he also won the doubles partnered with Jack Sock. 

Against Baez, he served all six of the match's aces to make it through unscathed, and he will now play the top-ranked Russian – who Kyrgios has beaten twice – although he dropped their third meeting at the Australian Open this year.

Dating back to the start of his Wimbledon run, where Kyrgios made his first grand slam final, the Australian has now won 13 of his past 14 matches, with the only loss coming in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic.

Earlier on, 11th seed Matteo Berrettini was the first upset of the day as he went down 6-3 6-2 against Spain's Pablo Carreno-Busta, while fellow Spaniard Pedro Martinez had less success, getting bounced by France's Gael Monfils 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-2.

America's Tommy Paul delivered a gut-punch to his neighbours in the Great White North by eliminating Canada's own Vasek Pospisil 6-4 6-4, and his Canadian compatriot Alexis Galarneau also struggled in his 6-4 7-5 loss to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

Marin Cilic showed why he is the 13th seed with a strong 6-3 6-2 win in his all-Croatian battle against Borna Coric, and American Maxim Cressy had similar success against Russia's Aslan Karatsev 6-4 6-4.

In a battle of the French it was Adrian Mannarino prevailing 6-3 6-3 against Arthur Rinderknech, and a pair of Englishmen made their way through unscathed as Daniel Evans won a back-and-forth contest against Filip Krajinovic 6-2 1-6 6-0, while Jack Draper returned to his rain-interrupted fixture against Hugo Gaston to finish the job 6-2 6-3.

Alex de Minaur ensured it would be a grim day for the Canadian fans as he eliminated Denis Shapovalov 7-5 7-6 (7-4), before Holger Rune fought off the challenge of Fabio Fognini to emerge a 6-3 7-5 winner.

In the late session, Roberto Bautista-Agut defeated Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, ninth seed Cameron Norrie needed just over an hour for his straight sets 6-4 6-4 win over Brandon Nakashima, and Andy Murray had no answer for Taylor Fritz as he went down 6-1 6-3.

Yoshihito Nishioka's strong form held up after his runner-up finish at the Washington Open, cruising past Benoit Paire 6-2 6-3, while 25-year-old Botic van de Zanschulp continued his rise up the rankings with a 6-1 7-5 victory over Miomir Kecmanovic.

12th seed Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to navigate the challenge of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 1-6 6-3 6-4, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas got the better of Belgium's David Goffin 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

In the final match of the night, world number 10 Hubert Hurkacz responded to adversity in the second set to pull out a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 win against Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori.

Tennis stars Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina are expecting a child, with their baby girl due to be born in October.

Monfils is the ATP world number 21, while Ukrainian Svitolina is ranked 27th in the WTA rankings.

On Sunday, the pair, who married in 2021, announced the news on their official Twitter accounts.

"With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October," a post on each of their accounts read.

Svitolina has been outspoken about her opinion on Russian and Belarusian athletes participating on the Tour, in the wake of Russia's invasion of her homeland.

In April, the 27-year-old called for Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from all international tennis events unless they denounce the invasion in Ukraine.

She decided to take a break from tennis in March, citing a back problem.

Novak Djokovic set up a last-16 clash with Andy Murray at the Madrid Open, impressing in a straight-sets victory over Gael Monfils while Murray overcame Denis Shapovalov.

The 20-time grand slam champion eased to a 6-3 6-2 win in the Spanish capital, assuring him of a record-extending 369th week at the top of the ATP world rankings and teeing up a mouth-watering contest with one of his greatest rivals.

The Serb hailed his victory as representing his best performance of 2022, saying he was pleased with his progress after falling to a final defeat against Andrey Rublev on home soil in last month's Belgrade Open.

"[It was] probably the best match of the year so far for me," Djokovic told Tennis TV after the win. "I haven't played many matches and am still finding my groove.

"But [it's] a very good win against a very tricky opponent. I had a week, 10 days to get ready for this match, and for this tournament I have done everything I possibly can to build my fitness and also improve on all aspects of the game, on the court. 

"I'm really glad that it paid off, because I felt good on the court. It's the right process, and it's the right direction."

Djokovic will face Murray for the 37th time, and the first time since 2017's Qatar Open, after the three-time grand slam winner rolled back the years to overcome Shapovalov 6-1 3-6 6-2 in an absorbing two-hour contest later on Tuesday.

The duo are one of only two male pairs to have met in each of the four grand slam finals (along with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal), while Djokovic holds a 25-11 lead across their previous meetings and has won both of their two encounters at the Madrid Open, one of which was their first-ever meeting in 2006.

Elsewhere in the draw, it was a day of few shocks in Spain as seeds Rublev and Carlos Alcaraz ensured their own progress to the last 16.

Rublev recovered from a poor first-set showing to down Great Britain's Jack Draper 2-6 6-4 7-5, while home favourite Alcaraz remained on course for a potential meeting with compatriot Nadal after earning a 6-3 7-5 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Finally, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 3-6 6-4 in a competitive first-round affair to set up Wednesday's enticing last-32 clash with world number three Alexander Zverev.

Andy Murray swept aside Dominic Thiem in impressive fashion to secure his first clay-court win in five years as the Scot advanced to the second round at the Madrid Open on Monday.

The three-time grand slam champion was largely in control against his Austrian opponent, hitting nine aces and saving all three break points against his serve, while Thiem could only save one of the three he faced as Murray won 6-3 6-4.

He will now play 14th seed Denis Shapovalov after the Canadian beat Ugo Humbert 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The winner of that contest will have a last-16 meeting against the victor of Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils after the latter eased into the round of 32 to set up a clash with the Serbian.

Monfils defeated wildcard Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3 6-0 in less than an hour, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also advanced with a 7-5 6-3 win against Lloyd Harris.

Dusan Lajovic set up a second-round match against fifth seed Casper Ruud, who defeated Borna Coric 6-3 4-6 6-4, and ninth seed Cameron Norrie will go up against John Isner, the Briton having overcome Soonwoo Kwon 7-5 7-5.

An interesting tie awaits the much-talked about Carlos Alcaraz after Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Fabio Fognini 7-5 6-4, with the Georgian to face the number seven seeded teenager next.

Jannik Sinner, the 10th seed, scraped through a hard-fought encounter against American Tommy Paul 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, and will play Alex de Minaur next after the Australian beat Pedro Martinez 7-6 (7-2) 1-6 6-3.

Diego Schwartzman will take on Grigor Dimitrov in the second round. The Argentine 13th seed beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-1, while Dimitrov overcame Maxime Cressy 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev has been eliminated from the Miami Open in the second round in straight sets by wild card world number 102 Nick Kyrgios on Friday.

The enigmatic Australian triumphed 6-3 6-0 in 52 minutes to clinch a third round clash with Italian Fabio Fognini, who won in three sets against Japanese Taro Daniel.

The victory marks Kyrgios' third win over a top 10 opponent in the past two tournaments, having topped both Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner at Indian Wells earlier this month.

Rublev had won titles in Marseille and Dubai earlier this season but was not allowed to settle by Kyrgios who sent down 10-5 aces and had a first serve percentage of 80 per cent.

"I know that he's a player who relies on a bit of rhythm, so I just tried to keep the points short and sharp, just play aggressive," Kyrgios said after the match.

"I'm just happy with my performance, whether it's 7-6 in the third or something like this, I'm just happy to get through."

Second seed Alexander Zverev was made to work for victory against Croatian Borna Coric, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 in two hours and one minute.

The win marks the 2018 Miami Open runner-up's first triumph at the event since that run to the final.

Sixth seed Ruud eased past Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-2, while ninth seed Sinner defeated Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8) in two hours and 40 minutes.

Several seeds were beaten included 13th seed Diego Schwartzman who went down 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to Thanasi Kokkinakis. Seeds Lorenzo Sonego, Grigor Dimitrov, Reilly Opelka and John Isner also exited.

Gael Monfils defeated Oscar Otte 7-6 (11-9) 6-1, Pablo Carreno Busta won 6-3 6-2 over David Goffin and 10th seed Cameron Norrie won 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 over Jack Draper.

Rafael Nadal did it tough against Reilly Opelka on Wednesday, eventually winning his way through to the quarter-finals at the Indian Wells Masters.

Nadal displayed an abundance of tactical nous, nullifying the American’s big hitting and service game to emerge the 7-6(6-3) 7-6(7-5) winner.

Along with a 76 percent first-serve rate, Opelka hit more winners with 26 for the match, but the 35-year-old Spaniard was able to grind out points from the baseline with his trademark heavy topspin. As a result, Nadal’s winner/unforced error differential was +14 in comparison to Opelka’s +1.

"He is one of the toughest opponents on tour," Nadal said post-match. "It is very tough to control his weapons with his serve and forehand.

"I think I played my best match of the tournament so far today. I am very pleased with how I was able to win the match, with two difficult tie-breaks. This victory means a lot to me."

The highest ranked player left in the draw, Nadal will now face Nick Kyrgios, who progressed to the quarter-finals after Jannik Sinner withdrew with illness.

Matteo Berrettini made a shock exit, meanwhile, losing 6-3 6-7(5-7) 6-4 to unseeded Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

The Italian world number six was put under constant pressure, with Kecmanovic targeting his backhand and hovered the baseline to close the angles on serve.

The 22-year-old’s only other top 10 victory came against Alexander Zverev, also the world number six then, at Cincinnati in 2019. He will now face Taylor Fritz, who defeated Alex de Minaur 3-6 6-4 7-6(7-5).

Also on Wednesday, Grigor Dimitrov edged past John Isner 6-3 7-6(8-6). In his unique style, the Bulgarian 33rd seed came up with the shot of the day, flicking a forehand pass across the visibly stunned Isner.

He will face Andrey Rublev, who defeated Hurbert Hurkacz 7-6(7-5) 6-4. In Wednesday’s other results, Carlos Alcaraz Garfia comfortably defeated Gael Monfils 7-5 6-1, while Cameron Norrie accounted for Jenson Brooksby 6-2 6-4.

Novak Djokovic will return to the top of the ATP rankings after Daniil Medvedev fell to a brilliant Gael Monfils comeback at the Indian Wells Open.

Medvedev was beaten 4-6 6-3 6-1 by Frenchman Monfils, with the reigning US Open champion only able to connect on 50 per cent of his first serves, while he was broken three times in the decider.

For Monfils, the win earns him a spot in the fourth round against Carlos Alcaraz, while the loss means Medvedev will lose his position as world number one after only two weeks.

Speaking to post-match media, Medvedev said while he will work hard to earn the top-ranking back, starting in Miami next week.

"Is it better to be number one for, let’s say one week in your life, or never touch it?" he said. "I think it's still better to at least touch it.

"Now I know I'm going to lose it, so I have Miami to try to get it back. [I'm] usually feeling a little bit better in Miami in terms of tennis, so I'll try to play good there.

"I thought it could give me more motivation, well, I had motivation. It's just that I didn't find my best tennis."

Top seed Alexander Zverev returned to winning ways after a surprise fourth-round Australian Open exit when he won his first match at the Open Sud de France on Thursday.

The German world number three was bounced out at Melbourne Park by Denis Shapovalov in straight sets, but he navigated his way safely past Mackenzie McDonald to reach the quarter-finals in Montpellier.

A largely dominant Zverev won 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to set up a clash with Adrian Mannarino in the last eight, and the 24-year-old highlighted how important he felt it was to quickly get back in the swing of things after disappointment in Melbourne.

"I'm going to give myself the best chance to do well in this tournament. But obviously, I'm happy to be back here," he said of the tournament he won in 2017.

"This is a place I really enjoy coming back [to]. After the Australian Open that I had, I wanted to play tournaments before my scheduled tournaments in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami. I said Montpellier is the perfect fit for that, and I'm happy to be here."

The same cannot be said for Gael Monfils, who suffered a crushing 6-1 6-2 defeat to Mikael Ymer on home soil.

The Swede was practically flawless throughout, winning a whopping 83 per cent of points on first serve and 89 per cent on second, with Monfils never even sniffing out a single opportunity to break back.

Richard Gasquet is a force to be reckoned with in Montpellier and reached another quarter-final, seeing off South Korean's Kwon Soon-woo 7-5 6-4.

Frenchman Gasquet reached six consecutive finals in Montpellier while in his prime years, being crowned champion in 2013, 2015 and 2016, and finishing runner-up in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Now 35, his last quarter-final appearance in an ATP main tour event came in August at Winston-Salem.

Gasquet's fellow Frenchman Mannarino sank the hopes of defending champion David Goffin, scoring a sparkling 6-4 6-2 victory.

Fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who lost twice to Andy Murray in Australia last month, this time fell to world number 152 Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina, sliding to a 6-1 5-7 6-2 defeat. Basilashvili, the world number 21, now has a record of played five, lost five, for the 2022 season.

At the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, there was a surprise defeat for Russian top seed Aslan Karatsev. Karatsev won a title in Sydney last month before losing to Mannarino in the third round of the Australian Open, and in his first match since that disappointment he slumped 6-2 7-6 (7-3) to Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer.

Three seeds joined Ymer in the quarter-finals, with Jiri Vesely, Emil Ruusuvuori and Stefano Travaglia all making smooth progress without dropping a set. Vesely faces Ruusuvuori on Friday, while Travaglia awaits Ymer.

Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals after outlasting Gael Monfils on Tuesday.

Berrettini had appeared to be on course for a dominant victory, and although Monfils fought back to make it tough, the 25-year-old got the job done 6-4 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-2 in a gruelling encounter.

Monfils had an uphill struggle amid a sloppy start, with Berrettini breaking to love in the fifth game as the Frenchman committed two unforced errors and a double fault.

That proved to be the only opportunity Berrettini needed, and he subsequently had few issues seeing out the set from there, though Monfils initially appeared sharper early in the second.

An astonishing fourth game then left Monfils looking dejected as Berrettini somehow survived 10 deuces to hold serve after almost 20 minutes – the 25 points played here were almost half the first-set total (55).

Berrettini sensed the mood and went for the kill, losing just two points on serve before going on to close out the set to love.

A reaction did come, however. Monfils finally got his first break of serve as Berrettini's first double fault gifted him a lifeline, the 35-year-old then easing through the rest of the third set.

He kept that up in the fourth as well, with two huge forehand winners helping Monfils go a break up to take charge before ultimately levelling the match, but Berrettini had too much in the decider as he broke in the first game.

Berrettini raced into a 4-0 lead and, although Monfils did pull a couple of games back, the Italian was out of sight and clinched a deserved victory that saw him grab a slice of history.

DATA SLAM: Berrettini holds his nerve at the crucial moment

Having lost the previous two sets heading into the decider, it could have been very tempting for Berrettini to completely change up his game, but he remained very focused on accuracy and essentially letting Monfils shoot himself in the foot.

Berrettini made no double faults and just four unforced errors in the final set, compared to Monfils' combined total of 11, 10 of which came during rallies. The Italian won 80 per cent of his points on serve in the fifth and that mentality was crucial in outlasting his opponent.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Berrettini – 51/50

Monfils – 48/51

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Berrettini – 12/2

Monfils – 15/7

BREAK POINTS WON

Berrettini – 4/11

Monfils – 3/14

Matteo Berrettini made Italian tennis history on Sunday as he blasted his way past Pablo Carreno Busta and into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The seventh seed won 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in a gruelling contest to set up a last-eight clash with Gael Monfils, who earlier beat Miomir Kecmanovic.

Berrettini is the first men's player from his country to reach the quarter-final stage of all four grand slams in the singles draw, and only the 10th active player to achieve the feat.

The 25-year-old only reached this stage of a major for the first time in 2019 and has since gone as far as the final in Wimbledon last year, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

Having withdrawn from his round-of-16 match with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne in 2021 due to an abdominal injury, Berrettini was delighted to have progressed.

"It was really tough last year. I really wanted to play, but I couldn't with the tear in the ab," he said.

"But I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I've been wishing to come back as soon as possible and the way I won today shows how much I care about this tournament."

Berrettini had luck on his side in the first set as two netcords on Carreno Busta's serve allowed him to break for a 6-5 lead.

Once ahead in the match, his serve and baseline power became too much for the Spaniard: Berrettini rained down 28 aces, winning 87 per cent of points behind his first serve, and hit 57 winners.

"I was really precise with my serving and he wasn't reading my serve, which is why I hit a lot of aces," he said.

Next up is a meeting with Monfils, who has now reached 10 slam quarter-finals in his career and a first in Australia in six years.

These two met at the same stage of the 2019 US Open, Berrettini prevailing in five sets after losing the first two. The winner could face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

"It's been a long journey for me and I'm quite happy, but it's not finished," said Monfils. "I will try to play this quarter-final not like the last time. I will try to be better.

"It's an achievement but we're not quite finished yet."

Gael Monfils admitted it felt "different" not to have Novak Djokovic in his draw at the Australian Open after reaching the fourth round.

Monfils, 35, moved into the last 16 at Melbourne Park with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-3 win over fellow seed Cristian Garin on Friday.

The Frenchman reached the fourth round of a major for the 20th time in his career, holding a 9-10 win-loss record in such matches, including losing five of his past six.

As he would have expected, a Serbian awaits him on Sunday – but it will be Miomir Kecmanovic and not Djokovic, who was removed from the draw after being deported from Australia prior to the start of the tournament.

Monfils has losing head-to-head records against Djokovic (0-17), Rafael Nadal (2-14) and Roger Federer (4-10).

"To be honest, for sure Novak is the world number one, and he always beat me, I never beat him. I lose to him, I lose to Roger, I lose to Rafa," he said after his win on Friday.

"When you go no matter what in a slam, for many years I've been losing to those big guys. Whoever is in the forefront, he's there for a reason, so it's going to be a big match no matter what.

"I think at that stage you don't really think about it, you're just like, okay, it's different, but different is not easier."

Monfils bowed out in the Australian Open first round last year, but enjoyed a strong finish to 2021 and started 2022 by winning the Adelaide International 1 event.

A winner of 11 ATP Tour titles, Monfils said he had put his early exit in Melbourne last year behind him.

"To be honest I tried to not even remember last year. I can just say that I'm here, I'm good," he said.

"I feel good, as I say. I worked, well, a lot harder, and I've just been playing great tennis for many months now since America last year. So I'm just me."

Rafael Nadal saw off Maxime Cressy in straight sets in Sunday's Melbourne Summer Set final to land the 89th singles title of his career.

The world number six, playing in his first tournament in five months due to injury, has now won at least one ATP Tour trophy in every season since 2004 onwards.

American qualifier Cressy more than held his own in a first set that went the distance, though Nadal's quality told as he prevailed 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena, where Nadal will be hoping to go deep in the season's first grand slam later this month.

Both men held in an entertaining opening set and Cressy led 6-5 in the tie-break, but he squandered his set point and Nadal hit back to grab a foothold on the match.

The 35-year-old, who won the tournament without dropping a single set, recovered from a break down in the second to add yet another trophy to his vast collection.

Nadal, who had not played since August before coming into this tournament and had COVID-19 last month, had not previously captured a title in Australia since 2009 when landing his only Australian Open triumph to date by beating Roger Federer.

And the Spaniard looks in good shape heading into the Australian Open, which may not feature defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is awaiting the outcome of a hearing to determine whether he will be able to compete in Melbourne.

"I feel privileged and a very lucky guy to be here again," Nadal said in his on-court interview.

"I am coming back from some challenging moments in terms of injuries, so I can't be happier. It means a lot to be back and with a trophy in my hands.

"This court has always been very, very special for me. The Rod Laver Arena is very, very special for everyone and it is more special because of you guys. You guys are a great crowd and I can't thank you enough."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Gael Monfils also made a promising start to the 2022 season with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Karen Khachanov in the Adelaide International 1 final.

Khachanov battled past former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, but he fell short of clinching a first title in over three years.

Top seed Monfils held throughout the opening set and found a breakthrough in the 10th game, with the second set following an identical pattern.

The Frenchman did not drop a set all tournament on his way to winning a first trophy since February 2020 in Rotterdam.

Rafael Nadal fended off a battling Emil Ruusuvuori to reach the Melbourne Summer Set final as the Spanish veteran bids to land the 89th singles title of his stellar career.

Nadal, who has won at least one ATP Tour tournament in every season from 2004 onwards, will look to extend that streak into a 19th year after scoring a 6-4 7-5 win on Rod Laver Arena.

He has not captured a title in Australia since 2009, when he landed his only Australian Open triumph to date by beating Roger Federer.

Nadal will be a strong favourite against American qualifier Maxime Cressy in Sunday's final, despite being made to work hard to see out victory over 22-year-old Ruusuvuori.

The 35-year-old Mallorcan looked set for a routine win but dropped serve at 5-3 in the second set, allowing world number 95 Ruusuvuori a path back into the contest.

It provided Nadal with a test of resolve that he came through, tying up victory in an hour and 56 minutes, an encouraging sign as he continues to battle for full sharpness after a near five-month absence.

Nadal acknowledges he may not have long left in tennis, and he wants to make the most of the opportunities that remain.

"I just love what I'm doing," he said in an on-court interview. "I always feel passionate about the sport in general and I feel a very lucky person that I can live from one of my hobbies, tennis.

"I know it's not forever and it's not a job I'm going to do for 50 years, but I want to enjoy it as much as I can while I still have the chance."

The foot injury that caused the 20-time grand slam winner to curtail his 2021 season in August has not prevented him finding winning form this week and now Paris-born Cressy awaits, with the 24-year-old world number 112 enjoying a remarkable week.

Cressy was a 7-5 7-6 (11-9) winner on Saturday against Bulgarian third seed Grigor Dimitrov, serving 17 aces on the way through to his first ATP Tour final.

At the Adelaide International 1 event, Gael Monfils will face Karen Khachanov for the trophy.

Top seed Monfils ended the spirited run of Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, earning a 7-5 6-0 semi-final win, while second seed Khachanov battled past former US Open champion Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Rafael Nadal was handed a walkover to the semi-finals of the Melbourne Summer Set tournament when his opponent withdrew with a foot injury.

In an ironic development, given Nadal has been so plagued by his own serious foot problems, Tallon Griekspoor had to pull out of his scheduled clash with the 20-time grand slam champion on Friday.

That was perhaps not the news Nadal wanted, given the Spaniard is competing this week to gain much-needed match practice ahead of the Australian Open. It is his first ATP Tour event since August, when a long-existing left foot problem caused him to curtail his season.

Withdrawing from a Rod Laver Arena tussle with Nadal was a painful blow to 25-year-old Dutchman Griekspoor too, and he wrote on Twitter: "These are the matches you play for."

It would have been a first career meeting with all-time great Nadal for the world number 65, who instead faces a fitness battle before the first grand slam of the year begins on January 17.

Nadal will go on to face Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori, who won 6-2 6-1 against Slovakian Alex Molcan. The other semi-final on Saturday will see Bulgarian third seed Grigor Dimitrov tackle American qualifier Maxime Cressy.

At the Adelaide International, the top three seeds sauntered through to the semi-finals. Top seed Gael Monfils brushed aside Tommy Paul 6-4 6-1, number two Karen Khachanov saw off Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-3, and third seed Marin Cilic was a 6-3 6-2 winner over Laslo Djere.

It was also confirmed on Friday that former world number one Andy Murray has been awarded a wildcard into next week's Sydney Classic.

Murray suffered a first-round exit in Melbourne and is looking for a run of matches before launching his campaign at the Australian Open, where he is a five-time runner-up.

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