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By Chris Oddo | Sunday January 21, 2018


Rafael Nadal was seriously tested on Day 7 by Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and he came through with flying colors, notching a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 win in three hours and 51 minutes to set up a quarterfinal with Marin Cilic.

Nadal is into the quarterfinals of a major for the 33rd time and the 10th time at Australia.


The Spaniard saw his hopes of a simple victory dashed when 5’7” Schwartzman broke back to draw even three times in the second set then took the tiebreaker with some spirited shotmaking.

It was the first set that Schwartzman ever took from Nadal—he had dropped the first seven in three previous losses against Nadal.

"I missed opportunities in the second," Nadal would later say. "That's the true. Three times break up in the second. Then you lose that many chances and you're in trouble."

The third and fourth sets were hard fought but Nadal found ways to break away from the No.24 seed when he needed to. It was never simple, however. Nadal had to save all nine break points he faced over the two final sets to ensure that he got through without going over the four-hour mark.

"It was a good test for me," Nadal said. "It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure. So, yeah, a lot of positive things that I managed well. I prefer to win in two hours than in four. But being honest, too, moments like this helps to be more confident in yourself, in your body."

Schwartzman hit powerfully all match, and he notched 58 winners to against 46 for Nadal, and he wowed the packed house on Rod Laver Arena with some daring shotmaking as well as stunning court coverage. Both players earned 18 break points on the match, but Nadal did better with his chances, notching seven breaks to three for Schwartzman.

Nadal improves to 230-33 lifetime at the majors, and 55-11 at the Australian Open.

"And now we start the second week," Nadal told reporters. "Quarterfinals already. Now is the moment to make a step forward, to play again more aggressive. I know I gonna have a tough opponent in front now, Cilic. I need to play aggressive and play well. That's what I gonna try."

 

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