Rafael Nadal extended his winning streak against fellow left-handers to 18 with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Cameron Norrie that earned him a place in the Australian Open’s fourth round.
Nadal is chasing a men’s record 21st major title but entered the tournament with back stiffness and without any competitive matches in 2021. He reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the 14th time in 16 trips.
The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a solid outing against the No. 69-ranked Norrie. He had only one double-fault and was broken just once. Uncharacteristically, he did have more unforced errors (35) than winners (33).
Nadal said: “First matches in a lot of time. I’ve had three matches that I hope will help me for what’s coming.”
Nadal will next play No. 16 Fabio Fognini. The veteran Italian had a straight-set win over Australia’s last hope in the men’s draw, 21st-seeded Alex de Minaur.