Rafael Nadal beats Fabio Fognini to reach Australian Open quarterfinals

(AFP) – World number two Rafael Nadal beat old nemesis Fabio Fognini in a scrappy affair at the Australian Open Monday to reach his 43rd Grand Slam quarter-final.

The Spaniard, bidding for a first title at Melbourne Park since 2009, has yet to drop a set and kept the record intact against the fiery Italian, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

It is the 13th time he has made the last eight in Australia, moving to joint third on the all-time list behind only Roger Federer (15) and John Newcombe (14).

The result keeps him on track to meet top seed Novak Djokovic in the final, with the Serb, who is carrying an abdominal injury, into his 12th quarter-final after seeing off the threat of Milos Raonic on Sunday evening.

“Happy to be in the quarter-final, positive start,” said Nadal, who is chasing his 21st major title and sole ownership of the men’s record, which he currently shares with Federer.

“When you play round of 16 against a great player like Fabio they are always fighting. You can’t expect to go on court and not have some problems facing these types of players.”

Next up is either fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or ninth seed Matteo Berrettini, who play later Monday, with the Spaniard enjoying a stellar record against both.

Nadal owned a 12-4 advantage over flamboyant Fognini dating back to 2013 coming into the clash and, despite some lower back tightness, he looked sharp.

But it wasn’t vintage tennis from the 34-year-old.

He didn’t serve at his best but returned well, creating 19 break points chances, although he only put away six of them, with just 24 winners to the Italian’s 32.

Nadal quickly raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set after hitting several stunning winners.

But the 33-year-old Italian is a fighter and gathered himself, breaking back before Nadal immediately broke again.

The Italian saved three sets points, but his resistence finally crumbled after 46 minutes.

The pair won their serves through the opening games of the second set until Fognini surprisingly made a move, breaking for 4-2 when Nadal fluffed a forehand from the baseline.

Both players were struggling on serve with Nadal earning five break points in the next game, finally converting and then saving three on his own service game.

But as Fognini’s error-count began creeping up, Nadal broke once more and made no mistake to wrap up the set.

He accelerated in the third set as Fognini faded, lacking the fight shown in the first two sets as Nadal put his foot down and sprinted to the finish line.

Source: AFP

19 comments

  1. “Tweet from Tennis reporters

    Rob Koenig
    @RobKoenigTennis
    ·
    17h
    Rafa’s backhand chip lob is so bloody good it’s not even funny! He gets it perfectly over the backhand side (of right handers) and the depth is spot on. So annoying/frustrating to play against as his opponent.”

    More of this Rafa. You’re a killa 🏸🏸👏

  2. I watch your much last night you play so good in 3sets is amazing good luck the next much vamosssssss champ you can do it all the way to the final all the love from your fans 💪💪💪😘😘😘🎾🎾🎾💪💪💪

  3. Despite Rafa’s overwhelming dominance of Stefanos Rafa can’t afford to play like he did against Fognini. Stefanos may not be so forgiving. Hoping Rafa can get another SS win.

    RAFA ROCKS

  4. Let’s go dancing woe la lalaaa, this is the king of Tennis, thank u my champ, u make me happy everytime especially when u beat those who intend to let u down vavamos Rafa and let them come down congrats once more my champ, u are the STAR

  5. Rafa and Stephanos have met 7 times with Rafa leading in wins 6-1. Their last meeting was at the 2020 RR ATP Finals where Rafa dropped the 2nd set and won the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

    Rafa’s 1 loss to Stephanos came at the 2019 Madrid Masters 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

    Rafa’s win vs Stephanos in the 2019 AO was 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.

    Hoping for another SS win.

  6. Congratulations Rafa👏
    All the best against Stefanos Tsitsipas! Hopefully a walkover won’t benefit him much👌
    Vamos Rafa 💪❤️

  7. Fognini is such a challenge to play. He had some incredible shots as always, but looked tired from his earlier matches. Rafa served surprisingly bad to start and made more UFEs than usual. I still thought he played fairly well and I never thought that he might lose after the first set. Tsitsipas will be well rested for his match, but Rafa is improving each match.

    • I agree with VA4favre. Uneven play at times, especially that second set. I thought the bright full court sun glare was a problem for both players. Now the tournament really gets exciting – Go Rafa!

  8. I think the Australian open entire family are wasting their time instead of running the tournament why not directly gives title to the king RAFA.

  9. It was a pure delight to watch Rafa demolish Fabio, who had all intentions to take Rafa out.
    Vamos our Champion

  10. Congratulations to rafa. I hope that he will face berretini instead of tsiparas. Nadal has won 33 sets in a row. If he wins the next match in 3 sets he will equalize the atp record which is currently in the hands of federer (36 sets in a row) produced in 2007.

    I believe this year is the year for rafa to win a second australian open title. Nole is nowhere his best. He has played one five setter and two four setters. I predict he will be one more five setter and one four setter so by the time he is in the final he will be exhausted.

    For rafa sake I trully hope that rublev will defeat medvedev. I am sorry i am still not over the loss from rafa against medvedev in the semi final of the atp tour finals last year. Nadal was serving for the match and that was the opportunity for rafa to win the atp tour finals for the first time

  11. Congratulations once more Rafa! 👍🏻👏🏻💪🏻🙌🏻. You are on the way 🙏🏻😌.
    Enjoy your break and have a good practice tomorrow. Hopefully, your Service and even your returns will be improving, you know how to do it 😉.
    A por ellos Rafa!! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻, ahora es el punto d Inflexión 💥🌊🌠🔥

  12. Well done champ!

    Time to stay sharp… Tsitsipas will have revenge on his mind for what you did to him last time at AO:)

    Djokovic injury yea right.

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