Sport Nadal shakes off 'emotional' first-set epic to win

10:09  23 january  2022
10:09  23 january  2022 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Men's No.6 seed Rafael Nadal survived a first-set scare to then dominate French opponent Adrian Mannarino and cruise into the Australian Open quarter finals.

Nadal was seriously challenged early on, failing to earn a single break point in the opening set and letting it go to a tiebreak.

The tiebreak then turned into a 28-minute epic which Nadal eventually won 16-14, fending off a number of set points from his challenger.

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Mannarino was grabbing at his groin at the end of the 82-minute first set and from there he provided little resistance against the 20-time grand slam champion.

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Nadal won the match 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 6-2 in the heat of Rod Laver Arena.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point win over Adrian Mannarino of France. © AP Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point win over Adrian Mannarino of France.

The champion Spaniard spoke about the 28-minute tiebreak after clinching the victory.

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"The first set was so, so emotional. Anything could happen there," Nadal said on-court.

"I was a little bit lucky out there, I had my chances. He had a lot of collapses too.

"While everybody knows how mentally this game is, it's a tough one... and after that crazy first set I think it was so important (I got the) the break at the beginning of the second.

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"I think he had been playing some fantastic tennis during the whole tournament against amazing players. Today the first set had been super difficult.

"His ball was very difficult to control, very flat, very fast and I'm very happy that I survived that first set without a doubt."

Tennis great Jim Courier voiced a number of concerns about Nadal during a "befuddling" opening from the 20-time grand slam champion.

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The commentators suggested the Spaniard was standing too far back, and was too reluctant to move forward against Mannarino, particularly when receiving his serve.

Nadal has been nursing a foot injury and Courier believes the issue is hampering the champion.

"Cannot believe we're seeing Mannarino get this many good looks at Nadal. Nadal still seems to be idling," Courier said.

Nadal, though, is through to yet another grand slam quarter final.

He will take on either Alexander Zverev or Denis Shapovalov in the last eight.

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