Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Tournament director Guy Forget said: "The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night.

"We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season."

Federer entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 win-loss record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month, and little was expected from him.

However, three wins on the spin showed he is not finished yet at the highest level, with his withdrawal suggesting he wants to preserve himself for Wimbledon, which starts at the end of the month.

Federer had been due to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the last 16 on Monday.

Roger Federer withdrew from the French Open on Sunday after winning through to the fourth round, citing a desire not to rush his return from injury.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery. The contest lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing at close to 1am.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and said a need to rest his body was behind his decision to withdraw.

In a statement released by the French Open, Federer said: "After discussions with my team, I've decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today.

"After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it's important that I listen to my body and make sure I don't push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

"I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court."

Rafael Nadal has tipped Alexei Popyrin for greatness after being tested by the youngster in the opening match of his latest French Open title defence.

World number three Nadal saved two set points in the third set on his way to a well-earned 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory in Tuesday's contest at Roland Garros.

It means that only three players have taken a set from the Spaniard at the grand slam event since 2016 – Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem.

Nadal's victory over Popyrin was his 31st in a row in Paris since 2015 and keeps him on course for a record-extending 14th triumph in the French capital.

The third seed was impressed by what he saw from his 21-year-old opponent, who showed admirable resistance by saving four break points to force a tie-break in the third set.

"With this serve, with these kinds of shots from the baseline, he has everything to become a top player," Nadal said. "If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game.

"He has everything to become a great, or at least a fantastic player. Let's see. Let's see what is going on in the next couple of months and years."

Asked about his impressive record of rarely dropping a set, Nadal said: "We are playing best-of-five. The other player needs to win two more sets to beat you.

"I know I'm going to be there fighting for every single point. Of course I don't want to lose the set at all, but that's part of the game.

"I'm happy to win that third set. I don't know how I won it, but I did, and I'm glad."

RUBLEV BEATEN BY BIG-SERVING STRUFF

Nadal's path to another French Open title is a little clearer following seventh seed Andrey Rublev's surprise first-round exit to world number 42 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rublev had reached the quarter-final stage at his previous three majors and was much fancied to go far in Paris, but he fell 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 6-4 to the big-serving Struff.

The German hit 25 aces on his way to beating a top-10 opponent at a grand slam for the first time, setting up a second-round meeting with Facundo Bagnis.

"I was feeling fine," Rublev said after the defeat. "I practiced well. I don't know why I lost. I think we played a good level today. I played a solid two sets, third and fourth, and then the fifth set.

"I think I should have won the second set, but this is tennis. I was serving for the set and I didn't make it, then in the tie-break I was a bit unlucky and he played well."

MONFILS ENDS SLAM DROUGHT

Fan favourite Gael Monfils battled back from a set down to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4 and earn his first grand slam win since the 2020 Australian Open.

Monfils has struggled since tennis resumed last year after the coronavirus-enforced break, with Tuesday's win on home soil just his second this season.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev kicked off his French Open campaign with victory over Jenson Brooksby in three sets.

Tenth seed Schwartzman, who reached the last four in Paris last year, saw off Lu Yen-hsun 6-2 6-2 6-3 in his opening match.

Matteo Berrettini was made to work a little harder for his victory against Taro Daniel, the ninth seed advancing through 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4.

There was an upset later in the day, though, as number 20 seed Felix Auger Aliassime was beaten in four sets by world number 98 Andreas Seppi.

Alexander Zverev ended a three-year wait for an ATP Masters 1000 title as he rallied to beat Matteo Berrettini in the Madrid Open final on Sunday.

The German had to do it the hard way at La Caja Magica over the past week, having previously seen off five-time winner Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem en route to the showpiece.

He was in a spot of bother against his Italian opponent at the end of a gripping first set that Berrettini took in a tie-break, Zverev's efforts in coming back from 5-0 down and earning a set point ultimately for nothing.

Berrettini eventually sealed the lead with his fourth set point but Zverev played with renewed focus at the start of the second, taking full advantage of a succession of mistakes with the score at 4-4 to force a decider.

Zverev's greater endurance in rallies then paid dividends early in the third as he broke to go 3-2 up, and Berrettini only won one more game as the German triumphed 6-7 (10-8) 6-4 6-3 to win the tournament for a second time.

Speaking afterwards, he said: "It is great [to win this title], especially after losing my last three finals I played at Masters 1000 events. This is definitely special and I just want to enjoy this one.

"[Berrettini's] game style showed it all. I didn't play anybody this week that can serve 235[km/h] on clay and serve 230km/h kick serves.

"It definitely was a different match and I am extremely happy right now."

On competing at the Internazionali d'Italia next, he added: "Rome is also an event I like and enjoy, so I hope I can perform [in] the same way as I did here and we will see how it goes there. I feel awesome."

This was the first time Zverev has beaten three or more top-10 players in a single competition since his ATP Finals victory in 2018.

Matteo Berrettini will take on Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open final on Sunday after overcoming Casper Ruud 6-4 6-4 in the last four. 

Eighth seed Berrettini has enjoyed a superb debut tournament in the Spanish capital, the 25-year-old dropping just one set on his way to becoming the first Italian to make the Madrid Open final. 

Berrettini, who won the Serbia Open last month, is just the third Italian ATP Masters 1000 finalist since the series was established in 1990, after Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner. 

"It's a great, unbelievable feeling, especially coming from Monte Carlo where I wasn't feeling that good," Berrettini said in quotes reported by the ATP website. 

"I won in Belgrade and now I'm in the final, so I'm really looking forward to playing against Sascha [Zverev]. I hope I enjoy it tomorrow the way I enjoyed tonight.

"I saw him [Zverev], he's playing really good. He's solid. He moves well. For his height, he's really good. He serves well. I mean, he's in the final. He beat Rafa [Nadal] and Dominic [Thiem], probably the best players on clay.

"It's going to be a challenging match, but I'm in the finals. I guess the best two guys are going to play each other."

Berrettini returned supremely throughout Saturday's match, nullifying Ruud's usually potent serve, and believes his aggressive approach was key to victory.

"My serve is my weapon, but today I think I returned a lot and I put pressure on him," Berrettini said. "I was just playing more aggressive. He's kind of like me, he likes to run around the forehand and play with spin. But I guess today I was playing better than him.

"The other time he beat me, so it's always a great fight against him. He reached three semi-finals in a row so he was feeling confident. I guess that's why I'm maybe even more happy with my win today."

In the earlier semi-final, Zverev followed up his famous win over home favourite and 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in the previous round by defeating Dominic Thiem.

Austrian Thiem had won the last four meetings between the two, including in last year's Australian Open semi-final and the US Open decider, where he came from two sets down to win in an incredible fifth-set tie-break.

However, Zverev was not to be denied this time, a 6-3 6-4 result keeping him on course for a repeat of his 2018 triumph at the event in the Spanish capital.

Alexander Zverev can see his rivalry with Dominic Thiem continuing for many years after he came out on top in their latest duel at the Madrid Open.

The German followed up his famous win over home favourite Rafael Nadal by defeating Austria's Thiem 6-3 6-4 in the semi-final on Saturday.

Zverev, who won this event in 2018, will meet either Casper Ruud or Matteo Berrettini in the final.

Thiem had won the last four meetings between the two, including in last year's Australian Open semi-final and the US Open final, where he came from two sets down to win in an incredible fifth-set tie-break.

Zverev said after his victory over Nadal that he would be thinking about that crushing loss in New York prior to his meeting with Thiem.

And he was able to gain a small measure of revenge for those recent grand slam defeats in the Spanish capital.

"We have had some fantastic matches," said Zverev. "We have played the biggest matches in the world. We have played Masters 1000 finals, we have played grand slam finals and [the rivalry] is still developing.

"It is still going to go on for a few more years. Hopefully we will play a few more amazing matches. It feels very [sweet to win], it is a rivalry where he kicks my a** most of the time!

"It is going to mean a lot to me [if I can win the final].

"I am definitely looking forward to playing another big final and I hope I can turn it my way this time."

A solitary break of serve was enough for Zverev to claim the opening set.

He recorded two breaks in the second to go 4-1 up and although Thiem got one strike back, two more holds gave Zverev - who forced 11 break points to his opponent's two - a big victory.

The world number six is yet to drop a set this week but has lost his last three Masters 1000 finals going into his latest attempt on Sunday.

Thiem, meanwhile, has reached the Madrid Open semi-finals in four straight years but it still waiting for his first triumph at the tournament.

Rafael Nadal said his shock quarter-final defeat to Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open was "very difficult to understand". 

Nadal, a five-time champion at the event, was a break up in the first set of his 15th quarter-final at Caja Magica but lost 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes.

The win was the biggest of Zverev's career on clay and confirmed his rise to second in the ATP Rankings. 

While Nadal said he was largely pleased with his displays in the Spanish capital, he was at a loss to explain the manner of his defeat on Friday. 

"I'm leaving Madrid with an overall positive feeling, but at the same time with the ugly feeling of having played a match like this today against a great player," Nadal told a media conference. 

"I think for most of the first set, I was playing better than him. And this is the negative part; while playing better than him in the first set, I still lost 6-4.

"This is very difficult to understand, especially for me. When this happens to me, it's usually in the opposite way. I find a way to win sets even though I'm not playing my best or as good as the opponent.

"I felt like I was playing better for much of the first set, but after a couple of errors – unjustifiable errors at the worst times – I found myself down a set.

"The outlook of the match changed there, both for me and for him. I knew then that a lot of suffering was waiting for me [in the second set], and for him, the knowledge that he just took a huge step forward during the match."

Zverev will face Dominic Thiem in the last four after the Austrian overcame John Isner 3-6 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes. 

Thiem, who has now made it to the past four Madrid Open semi-finals, said: "I think we all know that he is one of the best servers in history and the altitude here in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve.

"I was a little bit surprised by his return games. I think he actually attacked both of my serves, the first and the second, and it took me a while to get used to it."

Casper Ruud will meet Matteo Berrettini in the other semi-final. 

Norwegian Ruud eased past Alexander Bublik 7-5 6-1 to make it three consecutive clay ATP Masters 1000 semis, while Berrettini beat Cristian Garin 5-7 6-3 6-0. 

Rafael Nadal saw off Alexei Popyrin to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals on a day that saw Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas suffer surprise defeats.

World number two Nadal, chasing a record-extending sixth title on home soil, advanced 6-3 6-3 in a time of one hour and two minutes on Thursday.

Popyrin, playing in his first last-16 match at a Masters 1000 event, broke Nadal in the sixth game of the opening set but the Spaniard otherwise looked comfortable.

Nadal converted four of his six break points to advance through to the last eight for a 15th time, where Alexander Zverev awaits.

"It was difficult," Nadal said in his on-court interview. "The court today was slippery, it was very fast, very dry conditions. The ball was flying a lot. The beginning was super tough. 

"He was hitting every ball and hitting the spots. I'm happy with the victory. It was an important victory, he came here playing well. Every match is tough."

Zverev, who won the competition in 2018, beat British number one Dan Evans 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to set up a meeting with Nadal

However, second and fourth seeds Medvedev and Tsitsipas saw their participation come to an end at the hands of Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud respectively.

Medvedev, who is still yet to reach the quarters in Madrid, lost the only break of serve in the third game of the opening set but recovered by taking the second set in a tie-break.

Garin dominated the deciding set, the world number 25 breaking Medvedev twice and, after a short delay to fix a broken net, advanced 6-4 6-7 (7-2) 6-1.

Tsitsipas, who held championship point against Nadal in the Barcelona Open final, failed to break Ruud on a single occasion as he fell 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

Alexander Bublik is next up for Ruud after beating Aslan Karatsev 6-4 6-3, while Matteo Berrettini - 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 winner against Federico Delbonis - will meet Garin.

Also vying for a place in the semi-finals are John Isner and Dominic Thiem, who are set to face off after beating sixth seed Andrey Rublev and Alex de Minaur respectively.

Dominic Thiem surged to an emphatic victory on his return to the ATP Tour at the Madrid Open.

US Open champion and two-time Madrid Open runner-up Thiem was playing his first match in nearly two months on Tuesday, having taken a break to recharge.

But it did not take him long to get back into the groove, the third seed easing through his second-round match with American qualifier Marcos Giron 6-1 6-3 at the ATP 1000 event.

"I was uncertain how things will be going. The game worked out very well in the past days of practice, but I was always practising on the outside courts which are faster, which are smaller, so I was just not sure how it was going to be in the match," Thiem said.

"But there were some things which I think made [the match] a little bit easier after such a long time, especially the conditions in Madrid, which are great for me.

"Then [I have] amazing memories on this court, where I already played probably some of the best matches of my career. I think that's why things worked out quite well tonight."

Next for Thiem in the last 16 is Alex de Minaur, who was leading 6-2 3-0 when Lloyd Harris retired from their match.

It was a largely strong day for the seeded players in the Spanish capital, home hope and ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut beating Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 in a first-round clash.

Andrey Rublev – the sixth seed – came from a set down to beat Tommy Paul 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 and eighth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini joins him in the last 16 after defeating compatriot Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-4.

Jannik Sinner, who is seeded 14th, won in the first round after Guido Pella retired in the second set. However, four seeds did tumble out of the draw.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was thrashed 6-1 6-4 by Casper Ruud in the first round and his Canadian compatriot Denis Shapovalov was beaten 6-4 5-7 6-4 by Alexander Bublik in their second-round encounter.

Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz suffered a second successive second-round exit, the 12th seed defeated 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 by John Millman in a match that went the distance having lost at the same stage in Monte Carlo.

Matteo Berrettini outlasted Aslan Karatsev in an entertaining Serbia Open final on Sunday to win his fourth ATP Tour title.

Karatsev stunned world number one Novak Djokovic on Saturday to reach the final, though the Russian fell just short of claiming another scalp as he slipped to a 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-0) defeat to Berrettini.

Second seed Berrettini could not take a first championship point in a third set that went the distance, but he held his nerve to add to his previous title triumphs at the Swiss Open, Hungarian Open and Stuttgart Open.

Berrettini held serve throughout the first set and broke his opponent in the fourth and sixth games to grab an early foothold in the contest.

But Karatsev, 18 places below world number 10 Berrettini in the ATP rankings, hit back in the second set to pave the way for a tense decider in Belgrade.

The big-hitting pair, competing against each other for the first time on the tour, managed a break of serve each before Italian Berrettini had match point in a gruelling 12th game.

While Berrettini was denied by Karatsev on that occasion, the 25-year-old powered through the tie-break to complete his impressive return to form.

"This title is for my family. This is the first time that they are actually here to see me win the trophy even though it's my fourth one," Berrettini said in his on-court interview.

"This is a special one. We came a long way since I was a kid and they were bringing me everywhere, so I think they deserve to see this kind of tennis and this kind of level. I really love them.

"It's been a pleasure being here. I came here not with the best feelings. I came back from an injury and it's never easy to come back and play this kind of level, this kind of tennis."

Aslan Karatsev secured a stunning career-best victory over home favourite Novak Djokovic to set up a Serbia Open final against Matteo Berrettini.

Karatsev showed astonishing defiance to beat the world number one 7-5 4-6 6-4 in the longest ATP Tour match of the year on Saturday.

The third seed from Russia saved 23 of the 28 break points he faced as his aggressive approach paid off, toppling the 18-time grand slam champion in a contest that lasted three hours and 25 minutes.

It was sweet revenge for Karatsev, who was beaten by the legendary Serbian at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open two months ago.

Djokovic had won 11 matches in a row in his homeland, but bowed out despite being 2-0 up in the first two sets as a solitary break in the decider ended his run.

Karatsev, the world number 28, said: "It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent.

"You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it's like playing against a wall. And he also made some good shots.

"He doesn't give you any free points. He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. That’s how I lost the second set."

Berrettini secured his place in the final with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 victory over lucky loser Taro Daniel.

Second seed Berrettini only lost six points in the last set after Daniel came from a break down in the second before winning a tie-break to take the second semi-final the distance.

Heading into Sunday's final, Karatsev and Berrettini have never previously faced each other on the ATP Tour.

 

Novak Djokovic will tackle teenage rising star Jannik Sinner for the first time in a tantalising clash of tennis generations on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.

World number one Djokovic is returning to action this week, having taken time away from the tour since banking an 18th grand slam title by winning the Australian Open in February.

He received a first-round bye, but waiting for him in the last 32 is Sinner, who on Tuesday saw off 2017 Monte Carlo runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4, again illustrating the 19-year-old Italian's great potential.

World number 22 Sinner is the only teenager ranked inside the top 80 in the men's game and is coming off his first run to a Masters final, at the Miami Open.

The switch from hard courts to clay is one that Sinner is having to deal with, and seeing off a specialist on the surface in round one represents an impressive start, although facing two-time former champion Djokovic will be a step up.

"It's always good for me to see what I can do on clay," Sinner said, quoted on the ATP website. "Obviously, I am not in the best form on clay now for the first week.

"But I think today was a solid match from my side. It was not easy. He's not giving [away] one point, so you have to stay there the whole match. I think I played a good match from my side."

Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last 16 with a 6-3 6-4 win over Russian Aslan Karatsev, but there was disappointment at the same stage for Italian eighth seed Matteo Berrettini, beaten 7-5 6-3 by Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Those were the only second-round matches of the day.

Surprise Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz made a winning start, battling to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 first-round success against Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano to reach round two.

Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini each booked places in round two thanks to straight-sets wins.

Qualifier Federico Delbonis was a 7-5 6-1 victor over France's Adrian Mannarino, meaning the Argentinian faces the ultimate test in clay-court tennis next, a tussle with Rafael Nadal, the 11-time former champion in Monte Carlo.

Nadal has won all four of their previous matches, and their fifth encounter will immediately follow the Djokovic-Sinner match on Wednesday.

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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