Rafael Nadal ends ‘special week’ by conquering Karen Khachanov to reach Australian Open fourth round
Rafael Nadal saw off a tough opponent in Karen Khachanov to book his spot in the second week of the Australian Open.
The 20-time Slam champion came into the tie up 7-0 in the pair’s head-to-head, having only ever dropped one set against the Russian.
But Nadal knew that Khachanov would bring power to the court, as the world number 30 played brilliantly to claim the third set after going two down to the Spaniard.
But the 2009 champion reeled off a 6-1 fourth set to win 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 and advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open for a 15th time.
The 35-year-old is particularly grateful on this Australian Open run as he continues to contend with a chronic foot injury.
“It’s a very special week for me,” Nadal admitted in his on-court interview.
“Coming back from [where I’ve been], every single time I am able to play here is just a very special thing.
“I played against a great player [in Khachanov] and I think a good friend on tour.
“So, I think it’s been my best match without a doubt so far since I came back. I wish him all the very best for the season.
“Honestly, I wish him well.”
Nadal had not dropped a set coming into the third round clash, and was clearly forced to step up a level by Khachanov.
He awaits the victor of 18th seed and surprise 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev and French veteran Adrian Mannarino as he continues his pursuit of a second Melbourne title.
Nadal is 2-0 against Mannarino, while he has never played Karatsev.
🎾 Read >> Breaking tennis news
🎾 Follow >> 24/7 LIVE scores
🎾 Free >> Receive our legendary newsletter
🎾 Order >> World’s best tennis magazine