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Australian Open: Nadal eases into 4th round, Cilic overcomes tough Verdasco test

Rafael Nadal defeated Australia's Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 while Marin Cilic edged past Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8), 6-3 in the third round of Australian Open.

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New Delhi Published on: January 18, 2019 20:49 IST
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It was Rafael Nadal's third match in a row against an Australian

Rafael Nadal has 19-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur's number — or numbers, really, and they are 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Nadal's victory over de Minaur in the third round of the Australian Open came by that score, as did the 17-major champion's win when the two met at Wimbledon last year.

De Minaur came into the Australian Open on a high having won the Sydney International last week but was outclassed by Nadal, who will play Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.

It was Nadal's third match in a row against an Australian, having beaten James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden in the first two rounds.

"Even playing against an Australian like Alex, I feel like the crowd — some part of the crowd — is with me," said Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion.

CILIC FIGHTS HIS WAY TO ROUND 4

Marin Cilic overcame a pair of match points — including one double-faulted away by Fernando Verdasco — and a two-set deficit for a 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8), 6-3 victory in the Australian Open's third round.

The No. 6-seeded Cilic, last year's runner-up at Melbourne Park and the 2014 U.S. Open champion, saved a match point at 7-6 in the fourth-set tiebreaker with a service winner, then watched as Verdasco gave away another chance to win at 8-7 by failing to put a serve in play. Cilic then grabbed a 3-0 lead in the fifth set and held on to complete the comeback.

It's the seventh time in Cilic's career that he has won a match after dropping the opening two sets. He also did it in the third round of the previous Grand Slam tournament — against Alex de Minaur at the U.S. Open in September.

Cilic now faces No. 22 Roberto Bautista-Agut, who eliminated No. 10 Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

TIAFOE MOVES INTO 4TH ROUND

Frances Tiafoe has advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park, his first appearance in the round of 16 at any Grand Slam.

The 20-year-old American beat 34-year-old Andreas Seppi 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Court 3, where matches began 2 1-2 hours late because of morning rain.

The No. 39-ranked Tiafoe beat fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson in four sets in the second round, and followed it up with a biceps-slapping celebration that drew plenty of attention.

He will next play 20th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Thomas Fabbiano 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4.

TSITSIPAS SETS UP FEDERER DATE

Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Tsitsipas broke the Georgian player's serve to take a 4-3 lead, then had a match point on Basilashvili's serve at 5-3. He served out the match in the next game, winning when Basilashvili hit a forehand into the net.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek man to reach the round of 16 at two tennis majors. Next he will face either defending champion Roger Federer or American Taylor Fritz.

Tsitsipas received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct from chair umpire Alexandra Robein when he became angry after having his service broken while serving for the third set at 5-4. While serving for the first set, he had to stop because of a screaming infant in the Margaret Court Arena crowd.

Rain and wet courts continued to delay the start of play on all the outside courts. Play went ahead on the three main show courts with the stadium roofs closed.

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