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Last Updated Wednesday May 23 2018 10:49 AM IST

Australian Open: Nadal cruises into fourth round; Ostapenko crashes out

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Rafael Nadal Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his match against Bosnia and Herzegovina's Damir Dzumhur. Photo: Reuters

Melbourne: Top seed Rafael Nadal stormed into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a bludgeoning 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur on Friday.

Melbourne's heatwave had relented by the time the 31-year-old Nadal walked on Margaret Court Arena, but the Spaniard was on fire as he battered the 28th seed into submission.

Meanwhile, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko's Australian Open hopes ended on Friday as the seventh seed was beaten 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 by Anett Kontaveit in a battle of the Baltic.

Latvian Ostapenko produced her usual brand of gung-ho tennis but Estonian Kontaveit weathered the storm to take her place in the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time.

Ostapenko, playing with a heavily bandaged thigh, dominated the second set but was unable to sustain her level.

Anett Kontaveit Estonia's Anett Kontaveit celebrates winning her match against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko. Reuters

Kyrgios edges Tsonga

Nick Kyrgios toppled his childhood idol Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a tense clash to reach the fourth round and raise home fans' hopes of a first men's champion in 42 years.

Away from the raucous atmosphere of his favored Hisense Arena, the tempestuous Australian showed impressive composure in the tie-breaks to beat former finalist Tsonga 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.

Tsonga, the 15th seed, had looked primed to take the fight into a fifth set when he stormed to a 4-1 lead in the final tiebreak, but Kyrgios roared back to seal it when the Frenchman hammered the ball into the net on the first match point.

Kyrgios will next face third seed Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the quarterfinals.

Nick Kyrgios Australia's Nick Kyrgios celebrates winning his match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Reuters

Lone blemish

Nadal's sole blemish was a dropped service game early in the second set but it only briefly slowed his charge.

"I am in the fourth round. That's because I am doing the right things. Let's see how far I can go," Nadal, beaten in the final by Roger Federer last year, told reporters.

Nadal arrived in Australia with question marks over the state of his knees after he was forced to withdraw mid-tournament from the ATP Finals in November.

Yet back in the kind of sleeveless top in which he launched his spectacular assault on the Grand Slams in 2005, and wielding his trusty forehand like a lethal weapon, doubts about Nadal's title prospects have quickly been cast aside.

"I needed hours on court, hours of practice, hours of playing sets with different players," Nadal said of his build-up to the year's first Grand Slam.

"I think I did a good preparation. I feel I'm playing well."

Argentina's 24th seeded Diego Schwartzman, who Nadal plays next, might prove a tougher obstacle than Dzumhur.

The 25-year-old from Sarajevo had actually walked off court a winner against Nadal in 2016 when the Mallorcan retired from their match at the Miami Masters with an illness.

This time it was Dzumhur who might have sought a quick way out after being allowed two points in the first four games as Nadal started like the scorching wind that had blown through Melbourne Park earlier in the day.

Nadal was 5-0 up in no time before Dzumhur managed to hold serve, prompting a sympathetic cheer from the crowd.

Another flurry of forehand winners helped Nadal into a 2-0 lead in the second set but Dzumhur, who became the first Bosnian to win a Tour level title last year, broke back with a dipping backhand that was too good for Nadal.

Normal service was quickly resumed though and Nadal hammered home a backhand winner to end a superb 26-stroke rally on his way to breaking again in the next game.

Nadal scrapped his way through a 10-minute game at the start of the third and rolled on to victory, sealing it with an ace before belting a ball high into the night sky.

Read more: Sports | Tennis | Australian Open: Vandeweghe slapped with $10k fine for obscene outburst

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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