Rafael Nadal beats Alexander Zverev in exhilarating five-set thriller

Rafael Nadal has reached the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park

Rafael Nadal has reached the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park

"In the tie-break it was a close one [but] he deserved it, he was more aggressive than me and after that I said to myself to fight for every point, forget about the result and that's what I tried". "We knew the match would be hard", Nadal's coach/uncle Toni said after the match.

"Everybody knows how good Alexander is, he's the future of our sport and the present too", said Nadal, who reached the fourth round for the 10th time in 12 appearances at Melbourne Park. Much as Nadal was perfectly suited to beat Federer, Zverev is arguably better suited to beat Nadal than any player not named Novak Djokovic. For the mighty Spaniard with 14 Grand Slam titles and more than 800 match-wins to his name was hit once again by injury during the French Open, returned for a courageous Olympic campaign in Rio, but would play just four matches after the US Open.

Canadian Milos Raonic is here pursuing his first major title, aiming to improve on his runs to the semifinals in Australia and the final at Wimbledon past year. For Nadal, the dangers of this match-up did not need to be pointed out; the calibre of his opponent blindingly obvious.

He came through 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 in four hours and six minutes on Saturday.

"I want to enjoy this win today because it is my first against Dominika and she is a great player".

Next up for Istomin is the victor of Grigor Dimitrov vs. Richard Gasquet, a match that was pushed well into Sunday morning due to the length of Nadal-Zverev and Daria Gavrilova's win over Timea Baczinsky. As I say before, no, my body was good during the whole match.

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"Australia was never his most successful tournament, even at his best, but champions know how to win and, if things fall right, he can be there".

The Spaniard will now face Gael Monfils in the last 16 after the Frenchman disposed of Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets later in the day.

The 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal came into this year's tournament off the back of a lengthy spell on the treatment table, but hopes were still high for picking up his second trophy in Melbourne.

The final set was a rollercoaster, with Thiem and Paire combining for seven service breaks before the Austrian gained the upper hand to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. "I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set".

She'll now take on last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta, who beat former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1, in a rematch of their fourth-round encounter here last year.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her unlikely run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, and so did American qualifier Jennifer Brady. But change when you lose the match or when you win.

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