MELBOURNE (AFP) – Rafael Nadal came out on top of an epic 28-minute opening-set tiebreak in sapping heat to power past Adrian Mannarino and into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion needed all of his experience and resolve to go on and claim a 7-6 (16/14), 6-2, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena to reach the last eight.
It is the 35-year-old Spanish great’s 14th quarter-final in his 17th visit to Melbourne.
Meanwhile, American Jessica Pegula stunned powerful fifth seed Maria Sakkari to fly into her second straight quarterfinal appearance.
The 21st seed stormed through a first-set tiebreaker and kept her foot to the gas in overpowering the Greek 7-6 (7/0), 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.
The sixth-seeded Nadal will next face Canadian 14th seed Denis Shapovalov who stunned Germany’s third seed Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
“I was a little bit lucky at the end of the tiebreaker, I had my chances but then he had a lot of chances too,” Nadal said.
“That crazy first set was so important and the service break at the beginning of the second set too.