Nadal proves a point
The Next Gen can wait. That’s the point Rafael Nadal proved as he brushed aside 19-year-oldAlexander Zverev in a 5 set thriller to reach the fourth round. Defying both fitness and form, the 2009 champion quelled the challenge of Zverev in a pulsating 4 hour duel. Nadal has always backed the German to be a potential Grand Slamwinner and world number 1. One break was enough to settle each of the opening two sets but Zverev showed nerves of steel to clinch the third set in a tie breaker. Nadal took the fourth set after taking an early break and broke gain in the fifth set for a 2-1 lead. Zverev replied with a break back and at 2-2, the match was evenly poised. In the next game lasting around 9 minutes, Nadal, after missing 2 break points, cashed in on a Zverev forehand error to take a 3-2 lead. The Spaniard did not look back and served out the match, with the German hobbling with cramps.
Saturday’s win was Nadal’s first five set victory in a Grand Slam in 2 years and now plays Gael Monfils in the round of 16. In other matches, Canadian third seed Milos Raonic prevailed over Frenchman Gilles Simon; fifteenth seed Grigor Dimitrov defeated Richard Gasquet and eighth seed Dominic Thiem knocked out Benoit Paire to advance to the next round.
In the ladies’ singles, sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova was shown the door by the Russian 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova in 3 sets. The Australian interest was intact when Daria Gavrilova stormed to the next round beating Timea Bacsinszky in 3 sets. However, the great escape act was delivered by Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner up, who rallied from 1-5 down in the final set to beat Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 4-6,6-0,10-8 and reach the fourth round of the Open for the first time. Ostapenko served for the match twice, but was broken each time, winning only one point in each game.