Rafael Nadal caps perfect 1st week at 2021 Australian Open

Oct 11, 2020; Paris, France; Rafael Nadal (ESP) in action during his match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 15 at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Nadal continued his stellar run with another straight-sets victory to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.

The second-seeded Spaniard topped Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Nadal has yet to drop a set, despite this being his first event of 2021.

“(I’m playing) my first matches in a lot of time,” Nadal said. “I already had three matches that I hope will help me for what is coming. I hope to be ready for Monday.”

Nadal, 34, needs four more wins to claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

Norrie had Nadal in trouble early, going up a break in the first set. Nadal responded by reeling off eight of the next nine points to quickly re-establish control.

“I didn’t convert the opportunities that I had at the beginning of every set, so then the situation became a little more difficult,” he said. “I had a lot of chances with a couple of 0/30 and break points that I didn’t convert. (When) you play against the best players in the world, it is normal that you are going to suffer a little bit.”

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Nadal will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the next round. Fognini, the 16th seed, beat Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

In other action, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia avoided an upset, holding off No. 28 seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0.

“He played unbelievable, especially in the fourth set,” Medvedev said. “Third set I had some chances. … He raised his level. I tried to change my position on the return in the fifth set and it seemed to be working well, I guess.”

Fellow Russian Andrey Rublev, seeded seventh, also advanced by beating Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-2, 6-3.

Also Saturday, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece beat practice partner Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-1, 6-1; No. 9 Matteo Berrettini of Italy outlasted No. 19 Karen Khachanov 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5); and No. 24 Norwegian Casper Ruud beat Radu Albot of Moldova 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

–Field Level Media