Tennis

Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty ease into Australian Open quarters

Rafael Nadal threw a blanket over the fire of Fabio Fognini to cruise into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win yesterday.

Facing the man who dumped him out of the 2015 US Open, second seed Nadal held steady against the fierce hitting of the flamboyant Italian and counter-punched brilliantly to avoid a longer scrap at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena.

The score suggested otherwise, but it was a quality two-hour 16-minute workout for Nadal, who had to rally from 4-2 down in the second set to put the match on his terms.

From there, the momentum was all the Spaniard's as Nadal roared through the final set to fix up a clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who progressed after Matteo Berrettini withdrew due to an abdominal strain.

Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev also advanced to the last eight after his opponent Casper Ruud retired with the score at 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).

Rublev will next face compatriot Daniil Medvedev, who took just 89 minutes to blow away Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty made light of the challenge of unseeded American Shelby Rogers to reach the quarter-finals for the third year in a row with a commanding 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Barty tried to deflect talk that she might end Australia's 43-year wait for a homegrown champion last Saturday, but she looked every bit the title contender as she swept into the last eight without dropping a set.

"We're not done yet," said Barty, who lost in the semi-finals at her home Grand Slam last year.

"It's exciting to be in another quarter-final of a Grand Slam, particularly here in Australia... but certainly not satisfied with where we're at (at) the moment.

"We will keep chipping away, trying to do the right things to progress as far as we can."

The 24-year-old looked like she had all the tools to keep local interest fixed on the tennis for another five days, as she set up a quarter-final against Czech Karolina Muchova. - REUTERS, AFP

Tennis