Australian Open

Fans hope for Nadal, Federer title match

2018-01-21 06:04
SIMPLY THE BEST: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer pose with their trophies after their epic final in the Australian Open last year. (Kyodo News, Getty Images)

Melbourne - A Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer showdown – a repeat of last year’s final – is still on the cards at the Australian Open.

Nadal was beaten by Federer at last year’s grand slam and will be determined to avoid falling to him again at this year's event.

Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman on Sunday after beating Víctor Estrella Burgos in the first round, Damir Džumhur on Wednesday and Argentinian Leonardo Mayer on Friday.

Out of action

So far, world No 2 Federer has won his opening matches without dropping a set.

He beat Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 on Saturday to progress to the last 16.

But if the Federer-Nadal clash is to happen, the Swiss might have to go through Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals – if they both get that far.

Federer and Djokovic have met 45 times, with Federer a win behind at 22-23.

Djokovic is eager to play after an elbow injury left him out of action for six months.

The Serb will on Sunday face South Korea’s Chung Hyeon after he defeated Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, has slipped to number 14 in the world because he has been inactive since July.

He complained about the heat the past few days and described the weather conditions as “brutal”, saying it was hard to breathe on the Australian courts.

The temperature peaked at Melbourne Park on Friday at 40.2°C.

Failed to replicate

Meanwhile, fifth seed Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to progress to the fourth round. Thiem’s next opponent is American Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by beating German Maximilian Marterer to reach the fourth round.

The first week of the Australian Open was not without surprises as South Africa’s Kevin Anderson lost to Kyle Edmund in the first round of the tournament.

Stan Wawrinka, who won the tournament in 2014, was back in action for the first time since Wimbledon after undergoing surgery on his left knee. Wawrinka lost to Sandgren in the second round.

On the women’s side, second seed Venus Williams was eliminated in the first round when she lost 6-3, 7-5 to Belinda Bencic.

The seven-time grand slam champion failed to replicate last year’s form that saw her reach the final.

More drama

Meanwhile, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber from Germany showed Russian Maria Sharapova, who won the tournament in 2008, the door on Saturday. 

Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, seeded third, was one of the big names sent packing by world no 88 Hsieh Su-wei in the second round.

With top seed Simona Halep playing with an injury, the title is anyone’s for the taking. She will compete against unseeded Naomi Osaka on Monday morning.

The final week is likely to provide even more drama and might see some players ask to compete in the evening to avoid the scorching heat.

Read more on:    roger federer  |  rafael nadal  |  australia  |  tennis
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