Rafael Nadal insists he was not struggling with injury as he crashed out of the Australian Open but acknowledged a lack of match practice could have contributed to his quarter-final collapse against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 20-time grand slam champion was dealing with a back issue at the start of the tournament, although he managed to advance to the last eight without dropping a set.

That impressive run appeared set to continue as Nadal won the opening two sets against fifth seed Tsitsipas, only for the match to turn on its head after a tie-break in the third

Tsitsipas emerged a 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 winner after just over four hours, becoming only the second player – after Fabio Fognini – to triumph from two sets down against Nadal at a major.

Post-match questions put to Nadal predictably centred on the potential impact of his back woe, but he insisted there was no physical pain on Wednesday.

However, reflecting on "just another story in my tennis career", the Spaniard repeatedly referred to the difficulty of preparing for a tournament amid such problems.

"I think I was in great condition before here," he said. "Then I've been a bit unfortunate for what happened for 20 days, and then I fight back to play, I think, decent tennis.

"Today wasn't enough. It was close, just that's tennis. That's all. That's the sport. One player wins; the other loses.

"Today I lost, so the only thing that I can do is try to be better next time, and today congratulate him."

Claiming the key was instead two costly mini-breaks in the breaker, Nadal added: "I am not complaining much.

"I think physically, it has been a very humid day out there. Physically I was not fantastic but not bad, you know? I was able to fight until the end, and that's it.

"The whole issue is I missed an easy smash at the beginning of the third, an easy forehand with 2-1 in the tie-break, and then another smash in that tie-break.

"That tie-break I made a couple of mistakes that I can't make to win the match. He played well then later. Well done."

Nadal was chasing a record-breaking 21st major championship, yet only one of those triumphs has come in Melbourne – back in 2009.

The 34-year-old has lost four finals, as well as regularly dealing with injury concerns at the first slam of the season.

But asked if he felt "cursed", he responded firmly: "No. No, no, no. That's sport. Sometimes things go well; other times things goes worse.

"Unfortunately for me, in this tournament, I had more injuries than in the others. Then matches that you lose like today against one of the best players of the world is something that happens.

"No, no, no. Not at all feeling unlucky for me and not at all complaining about my luck here in Australia.

"Everyone has what we deserve. Tennis isn't a sport that is fair. I have what I deserved in my career, and over here in Australia I had chances, but I was not able to convert it. That's all. I didn't deserve more."

Use of the word "unlucky" brought a similar response, as Nadal insisted he was not looking for excuses.

"We can find excuses or reasons or maybe this quarantine that we need to be more time in the room than usual, yes, maybe," he said. "But I am not the guy that is going to find excuses on that or going to complain about what happened, no.

"Just accept. I never considered myself an unlucky person at all. It doesn't matter the injuries that I had. I think I am very lucky person.

"The only thing that I can do is just keep going. I put myself in a position, even with the challenges that I faced, that I was in quarter-finals with two sets up, close to being in the semi-finals.

"So, it has been a chance lost, yes, but life continues. I hope to keep having chances. Well, I'm going to keep fighting for it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to explain how he pulled off a remarkable turnaround against Rafael Nadal to reach the last four of the Australian Open.

The fifth seed had only once before beaten Nadal and was facing a seventh career defeat to the 20-time grand slam champion as he fell two sets behind on Rod Laver Arena.

Instead, Tsitsipas rallied after a third-set tie-break to triumph 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 and advance to a semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

The Greek joined Fabio Fognini, at the 2015 US Open, as the only players to overturn a two-set deficit to beat Nadal at a major.

Victory had seemed particularly remote as Tsitsipas struggled to make any inroads on Nadal's serve. He won only 10 receiving points across the first two sets - two of those coming courtesy of double faults - and had to wait until the final game before the breaker in the third to add an 11th.

Then, to the victor's bemusement, the match turned, ending Nadal's run of 35 consecutive set wins at grand slams.

"I have no words to describe what has just happened on the court," Tsitsipas said. "My tennis speaks for itself.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to fight at such a high level and leave it out on the court. I started very nervously.

"I don't know what happened after the third set. I flew like a bird and everything worked for me."

Tsitsipas, who made just four unforced errors in the pivotal third set, added: "I focused on staying calm and holding my nerves today. I have failed to do so in some of my matches.

"I stayed calm in the tight moments and I kept everything to myself. I am really happy with the attitude that I showed on the court."

Now Tsitsipas must take on another player he has only previously defeated once, although that win came in his most recent meeting with Medvedev in 2019.

"He plays very well and has been very consistent, with lots of consecutive wins," Tsitsipas said. "I need to recover and have a good ice bath.

"I am looking forward to the match and each match I play here is an opportunity to play my best tennis. It will be amazing to see the crowds again."

Rafael Nadal suffered a remarkable collapse to exit the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage despite earlier leading Stefanos Tsitsipas by two sets.

Only once in Nadal's grand slam career had he previously let a two-set lead slip and such a slump appeared entirely improbable as he dominated Tsitsipas on Rod Laver Arena.

But the 20-time major champion, chasing a record-breaking 21st title, struggled to recover his momentum after dropping a set for the first time in the tournament when the third went to a tie-break.

The courageous Tsitsipas grew in confidence and landed a momentous second career win over Nadal to reach a third slam semi after a four-hour 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5 epic.

Rafael Nadal insisted he is not "obsessed" in his quest for further grand slam glory after the 20-time major champion moved through to the Australian Open quarter-finals. 

Nadal advanced to the last eight of the tournament for the 13th time in his illustrious career following Monday's dominant 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over 16th seed Fabio Fognini.

World number two Nadal is bidding to claim a record 21st slam crown, while the Spanish star is also looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four majors twice.

As Nadal looks ahead to a showdown with fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, he discussed his motivations, having won everything on offer on the ATP Tour.

"I play tennis. I like tennis," the 34-year-old said. "I like what I am doing. That's the main thing. 

"Of course I am very motivated to win grand slams and to play in the most important events of the year. No doubt about that.

"The only thing that I said is I have never been obsessed to try to be the best or to try to – no, I just did my way. That worked for me.

"I think the ambition is important, to have an ambition, but a healthy ambition. If you have too much ambition then you can be frustrated when you are not able to achieve all the things that you wanted.

"I never approached the sport and my career that way. That's it. I enjoy, I give my best always. I try to compete at my highest standards every day. Sometimes the highest standards are 60 per cent, sometimes they are 100 per cent. But I just try to give my best throughout my career, and that's it.

"For me the main thing is come back home with personal satisfaction that you gave it everything. That's what gives me happiness and makes me stay calm."

Nadal was under an injury cloud heading into the year's first grand slam due to a back problem which forced him to sit out Spain's ATP Cup campaign in Melbourne.

But the 2009 Australian Open champion has looked comfortable at Melbourne Park, where he is yet to drop a set.

"I played first set without a doubt [against Fognini] has been my best level in the tournament," Nadal said. "It's normal, too, because I was able to practice for two days in a row. That makes an important difference. 

"But at the same time, it's important to find positive feelings now. My physical condition needs to keep improving. But I think this match helps, too.

"I was not able to practice the proper way for the last 19 days, but yesterday [Sunday] I started again to increase the amount of work on the practice, and today has been a positive victory with some long points, so that helps for the next match."

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 reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the 13th time in his career with a straight-sets win over Fabio Fognini.

The Spanish star again looked in strong form in a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Italian 16th seed Fognini behind closed doors on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

Nadal, who is aiming to win a men's record 21st grand slam title in Melbourne, is yet to drop a set at the year's first major and beat Fognini for the 13th time in 17 meetings.

The world number two will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

Nadal gave up an early break lead against Fognini but a powerful forehand return led to another and a 4-2 lead.

Despite serving at just 42 per cent, Nadal closed out the opening set.

Fognini was unable to consolidate a break lead in the second set, having led 4-2, before Nadal recovered from 0-40 down to hold in the eighth game.

That would prove a decisive hold, Fognini blasting a ball into the stands after netting a volley to give Nadal a break point, converted when a forehand went wide before the Spaniard secured the set.

Fognini handed Nadal his only loss from two-sets-to-love up at a grand slam at the US Open in 2015, but a break for 2-1 in the third saw the latter end any chances of a repeat on his way to a convincing win.

 

Data Slam: Nadal's fine Australian Open record
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. Roger Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14) are the only men to have reached more Australian Open quarter-finals.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 24/20
Fognini – 32/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 6/3
Fognini – 7/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/19
Fognini – 2/6

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 rounded off a comfortable first week at the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie to reach the last 16.

The Spaniard triumphed 7-5 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

Nadal was short of his brilliant best but a third-round victory never looked in doubt from the moment he emerged triumphant from a competitive opening set.

He will face number 16 seed Fabio Fognini, who defeated home favourite Alex de Minaur, in the fourth round.

The world number two will fancy his chances of a first Australian Open title since 2009, especially with defending champion Novak Djokovic struggling with an injury.

Nadal is yet to drop a set or even be taken to a tie-break at the tournament but he almost was by Norrie in the first meeting between the players.

World number 69 Norrie claimed the first break of the match in the fifth game when Nadal found the net with a forehand.

But the 20-time grand slam champion immediately broke back and then pivotally struck again while Norrie was serving to stay in the set at 6-5.

Norrie was unable to force a break point in the match, with Nadal racing clear to break twice and secure the second set.

The Briton saved two break points early in the third set but that was only delaying the inevitable.

It again looked like Norrie would force a tie-break, but once more Nadal struck when it mattered at 6-5, a forehand winner setting up match point that was converted when his opponent sent a backhand wide.

Data Slam: Nadal punishes Norrie second serve

Norrie won only seven of 30 points on his second serve, his 23 per cent win rate falling well short of Nadal in that category (18/26, 69 per cent). The match was competitive apart from the second set, where four winners and 14 unforced errors from Norrie meant Nadal did not need to do much to go two ahead and put the result beyond doubt.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Norrie– 25/43
Nadal– 33/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Norrie– 9/4
Nadal– 7/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Norrie– 1/1
Nadal– 5/12

Rafael Nadal said he felt pity for the woman who hurled abuse at him and flipped a middle-finger gesture before being thrown out of Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open.

In the last match of the day on the main show court, the fan was ejected near the end of the second set, viciously taking issue with the time Nadal was taking before each serve.

She yelled out as Nadal repeatedly bounced the ball, readying himself to send down a serve to second-round opponent Michael Mmoh.

The fan appeared to call Nadal an "OCD f***", and he responded with bafflement and some amusement before looking up to the stands, with the spectator staring down at him, the middle finger on her right hand raised in an aggressive manner.

The umpire then spoke out to declare: "Thanks madam, you're delaying everything."

Moments later, security arrived to escort the woman out of the show court, to the roaring approval of the vast majority of the crowd.

"Yeah, it was to me I think," Nadal said of the gesture.

"Maybe she took too much gin or tequila. I don't know. But honestly it was a strange situation, but funny at the same time."

He had laughed at the bizarre nature of the incident when it happened, with the 20-time grand slam champion having been unused to facing any such sniping during his career.

"For me it was funny," Nadal added in his post-match news conference after tying up a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win.

"Honestly, somebody doing the finger to me. I don't know the reason, but yeah, I was surprised, but at the same time I was thinking, 'Poor girl'. Because probably she was drunk or something like this. I don't know."

Nadal will face Cameron Norrie in round three.

 

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.

Record-chasing Rafael Nadal cruised through to the third round of the Australian Open after outclassing Michael Mmoh in straight sets.

Nadal is bidding to move clear of Roger Federer with a record 21st grand slam title, while the world number two 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 remains on track thanks to Thursday's 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory in warm conditions under the Rod Laver Arena lights.

Nadal was aiming to maintain his perfect record against qualifiers at the Australian Open - the Spanish star having won 25 of the 26 matches played against qualifiers at a grand slam, with his only defeat coming to Dustin Brown at Wimbledon in 2015.

He did not have much trouble against Mmoh, Nadal schooling the 23-year-old in a merciless and devastating first set, which saw him win 80 per cent of first serves, hit 10 winners and break twice.

Mmoh, who was looking to surpass the achievement of his father after Tony reached the Australian Open second round in 1988, provided some flashes of quality.

On just one occasion had Nadal lost to a player as low as number 177 Mmoh at ATP Tour-level - world number 690 Joachim Johansson in 2006, while Nick Kyrgios (144) was the lowest-ranked player to upstage the veteran at a slam via Wimbledon in 2014.

But it was trademark Nadal, who despite Mmoh's best efforts, broke in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and never looked back, though one unruly fan tried their best to derail the former world number one before being escorted out of the stadium.

Amid concerns over his back pre-tournament, Nadal raced through the third set with a couple of highlight shots to set up a clash against Cameron Norrie.

 

Data Slam: Nadal stays perfect

Nadal improved to 50-0 when winning the opening two sets at the Australian Open, dating back to 2004.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 40/24
Mmoh – 16/25

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 7/3
Mmoh – 8/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 5/11
Mmoh – 0/0

Rafael Nadal sailed into the second round of the Australian Open on day two before backing "humble" fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz to have a "great career" following his maiden grand slam win.

Nadal cruised to a 6-3 6-4 6-1 victory over Laslo Djere on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday and will face Michael Mmoh in round two.

The Spanish great's compatriot Alcaraz won his first major match at Melbourne Park, seeing off fellow qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-1 6-4 6-4.

Murcia native Alcaraz has been billed by Nadal's uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, as his nephew's "natural replacement" and the 20-time grand slam champion says the 17-year-old has all the ingredients to have a great career.

The second seed said: "He's very good. He's very young. He has everything to improve in the future with his age.

"He already is where he is, and he has a lot of great things on his game. I really believe that he will have a great future because he's a good guy, humble, hard worker. He has a lot of positive things."

Daniil Medvedev outclassed Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-2 6-4, while Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 6-1, but fellow seed David Goffin lost a five-set marathon with Alexei Popyrin.

 

Nadal happy to 'survive' 

Nadal missed the ATP Cup before starting his quest for a record 21st grand slam title at Melbourne Park due to muscle tightness in his back.

He was simply happy to clear the first hurdle on the second day of the tournament.

"I needed to survive today and that's what I did. I just tried to be focused all the time, tried to get through," he said.

"For me personally, [I'm] happy to be through to the second round. I did I think a good job today. Straight sets, that's what I did."

 

Tennys disgruntled over 'joke' of preparation

American Tennys Sandgren was among over 70 players who were locked down in a hotel for a fortnight before the tournament due to positive COVID-19 test on their flight to Australia.

Sandgren made no secret of his displeasure over the restrictions he was forced to adhere to and let his feelings be known again after the two-time quarter-finalist lost 7-5 6-1 6-1 to Alex de Minaur on John Cain Arena.

He said: "How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that, that calibre, when you can't play tennis? You can't go outside? You can't. It's impossible. It's impossible.

"So I played last week's event [the Great Ocean Road Open], which probably wasn't a good idea. It wasn't hot, it was very mild conditions, and I played two hard three-set matches and I've never been more sore in my life after the second round, and I took two days off because I couldn't walk, and then I hit a couple times before today. I mean, it's just kind of a joke of preparation. But yeah. What are you going to do?"

 

Alcaraz escaping social media hype

Big things are expected of teenager Alcaraz and there was more hype over his potential after an impressive first-round win.

Alcaraz just wants to do his own thing and show why the likes of Rafael and Toni Nadal speak so highly of him.

"So I try to be focus on me, not on the social media, to play my game, play in front of my team, to my team, to me, my family," he said.

"I try to, yeah, to be a part of the social media and don't hear the comparison with Rafa. Yeah, I try to do this."

Rafael Nadal insisted his back was "not perfect" but he is hoping the injury improves after easing through the Australian Open first round.

Playing his first competitive match since last year's ATP Finals, Nadal cruised past Laslo Djere 6-3 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

As he eyes a record 21st grand slam title, the Spanish star entered the year's first major under an injury cloud.

Despite his comprehensive first-round victory, Nadal, 34, said his back was still troubling him.

"My back is not perfect, as I said a couple of days ago. Every day that I'm able to go through, probably there are more chances to get better. That's the thing now," he told a news conference.

"There is always a chance to improve, and that's why I'm here playing and fighting to try to get better and then give myself a chance. Today it's not great.

"I needed to change a little bit the motion of my serve. That's what I tried to survive that condition today. Tomorrow a day off.  After tomorrow, another match. I need to go day to day and just try to stay positive.

"Of course every day that I am trying to stay here longer is a day with a chance to get better finally, so that's what I am trying. Trying to do all the things possible to be ready for compete, for what I came here."

Nadal won 40 of 48 points on first serve against Djere, while he mixed 19 winners with 24 unforced errors.

The world number two is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win every grand slam at least twice as he aims to add to his 2009 Australian Open title.

"I was able to win in straight sets. It's always a positive start for me," Nadal said.

"Always difficult after not playing for a while, playing an official match in a while. A good start. Happy.

Nadal will face either Viktor Troicki or Michael Mmoh in the second round.

Rafael Nadal opened his bid for a record 21st grand slam title with a straight-sets win over Laslo Djere at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

World number two Nadal, level with the absent Roger Federer for the most men's slams in history, defeated Djere 6-3 6-4 6-1 in the opening round in Melbourne.

Nadal needed less than two hours to earn a meeting with either Viktor Troicki or Michael Mmoh as he appeared to dismiss concerns regarding his fitness at Melbourne Park.

All eyes were on Nadal due to a back problem, which left the star unable to compete for Spain in last week's ATP Cup.

But Nadal looked comfortable as Rod Laver Arena was bathed in sunshine, racing out to a commanding 5-1 lead behind a double-break advantage.

Djere – whose racquet went flying out of his hand and into the court as he served in the fourth game – looked overawed, however once he settled, the Serb reeled off seven successive points to unsettle Nadal.

Nadal, though, survived the fightback to close out the first set from a 0-30 deficit, despite his unforced-error count blowing out to 13 – one more than Djere.

Djere showed glimpses as he continued to make things difficult for Nadal, who had only lost twice previously in the first round of a slam – Steve Darcis (2013 Wimbledon) and Fernando Verdasco (2016 Australian Open).

But Nadal had all the answers, reducing his unforced-error count to nine and raising his winners to eight to claim a commanding two-sets-to-love lead.

Nadal boasted an intimidating record when winning the opening two sets of a slam match – 216-1, with his only loss coming to Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open – and he never looked back against Djere.

 

Data Slam: Nadal keeps strong record
Nadal kept a record intact, having never lost an Australian Open match to a player ranked as low as number 56 Djere.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 19/24
Djere – 20/36

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 5/1
Djere – 4/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/11
Djere – 1/5

World number one Novak Djokovic is in favour of technology replacing linespeople across the ATP Tour amid the absence of judges at the Australian Open.

This year's Australian Open is being held without line judges as a response to coronavirus restrictions at Melbourne Park, where "Hawk-Eye Live" technology is being used on every court. 

It is the first grand slam to replace all linespeople with technology as the tournament seeks to limit the number of people on court amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Djokovic was sensationally disqualified in the fourth round of last year's US Open for inadvertently hitting a ball at a line judge during his clash with Pablo Carreno Busta in New York.

Asked about the situation at the Australian Open, defending champion and eight-time winner Djokovic told reporters: "I think back [at the] US Open last year, someone asked me whether I would support the idea of introducing this kind of line call technology at every tournament.

"Obviously providing that the tournament is able to afford financially that kind of investment, because obviously it is an investment.

"I said that I support that, because I feel, yes, I understand that there is a tradition and history and the way we kind of got used to the line umpires being there, and I think it's nice that there is a lot of people and also volunteers with these line umpires that love tennis and love to have an opportunity to be out on the court and be close to the players and be part of a great event.

"But I think when you draw a line that generally I actually am in favour of technology. I think it's proven to be very accurate in this particular instance.  I don't see a reason why we need the line umpires, to be honest, if we have technology like this. I would of course keep the ball kids, but line calls I'm in favour of this technology."

Djokovic was speaking after beginning his quest for a ninth Australian Open title with a 6-3 6-1 6-2 win over Jeremy Chardy on Monday.

The 17-time grand slam champion is trying to close the gap on 20-time major winners Roger Federer - who is absent from this year's event - and Rafael Nadal.

"I respect all of my opponents' records. I think especially Roger and Rafa, what they have achieved over the years. They are legends of our sport, and I admire them a lot," Djokovic said. "They have positively affected my game and my growth, my development and all my success. Wouldn't be what it is if these two guys were not there.

"I have had tremendous rivalries with these two guys and we still keep on going. But I don't want any of their success, if you know what I mean. I'm not jealous of their success or anything like that. I try to build my own authentic career and my own success, and I stick to that."

Djokovic added: "I am always motivated and inspired to achieve big goals and break records. I would lie if I say that's not, you know, something that I'm thinking about or that my attention is not going that way.

"I have been very transparent about the fact that one of the biggest goals is to try to reach the number one of all time weeks' record, and I'm getting closer and closer to that one. That's a kind of a lifetime achievement for me. 

"Grand slams, as well. Of course the Masters events, I think the 1000 events over the years I have managed to be very consistent and win a lot of titles there. Those are the biggest events that we have on the four other than grand slams.  The head-to-head records with top guys as well, to name a few. I try to be a good student of the game. 

"I'm just very fortunate to be in this situation and position that I'm in at the moment, so I try to keep on going and obviously setting up new goals for myself, because I feel like other than passion and love that I have for the game and the biggest reason why I still play it is exactly that pure emotion that I have of enjoyment when I'm there and excitement.

"As a professional tennis player, I need to have goals. Over the last 15 years, everything that I have managed to achieve, I don't settle for anything less but the top of the men's game and the biggest trophies.  That's something I always aim for. I work towards that.  And yeah, I'm still lucky to be where I am. Let's see what the future holds."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.