Andy Brownbill / Associated Press
Rafael Nadal is advancing to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open 2021 after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Fabio Fognini on Monday in Melbourne.
This is the fifth year in a row that Nadal has sailed in the quarterfinals of the tournament and he has failed to reach this stage only twice since 2006. He lost the Australian Open 2013 and lost in the first round in 2016.
Fognini upset Nadal in the third round of the US Open 2015. Referring to the victory at the time, he saidyou “should risk “and”you have to attack him when you have the chance “when facing 20 times Grand Slam champion.
At first, it seemed like Nadal was on his way to a straightforward victory. He left the service in the fifth game of the first set, but still built a 5-2 lead thanks to a pair of service interruptions.
Fognini mentioned the need to gamble against Nadal, and he did exactly that in the first frame. The Italian hit some masterful moves and compiled 14 winners, five more than his opponent. However, his approach also saw him accumulate 11 unforced errors.
Roles changed to start the second set. Fognini seemed more confident, and his aggressive strategy allowed him to dictate more points.
With a service interruption in the sixth game, Fognini jumped forward 4-2 and appeared to have settled into the driver’s seat. Instead, he was resolved. Nadal took the next four games to claim the set. After 5-4, Fognini hits the ball on the pitch.
In that aforementioned US Open match, Fognini lost the first two sets before making an incredible comeback. If he did it once, then maybe he could do it again.
Losing his focus to close the second set, the 33-year-old regained his composure a little more as the third started. While serving at 1-1, however, he threw an edge from the bottom line into the net to give Nadal another service interruption.
Nadal was not at his best, but he only needed to extend the points as long as Fognini made mistakes. The resistance that Fognini showed earlier in the match was not found anywhere as many of his shots sailed long or failed to make it to Nadal half.
In his latest quest for a second Australian Open title, Nadal has yet to drop a set. This warns well given how much the COVID-19 pandemic hindered training for everyone participating in the tournament. The 34-year-old has not had to expend a great deal of energy, so he needs to be more than ready when faced with a tougher test than the one he encountered on Monday.
Statistics are courtesy of Australian Openofficial site
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