Rafael Nadal who’s world number one and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep dodged an exodus of seeded players following shocks at the Australian Open on Saturday.
A day after Serena Williams and title-holder Naomi Osaka crashed out of the tournament and second seed Karolina Pliskova also fell off to leave another gaping hole in the women’s draw.
Serena, Pliskova and Osaka’s disappointing exit from the race means clearing obstacles for the likes of Halep and 2016 winner Angelique Kerber.
Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, the sixth seed, has won only one game against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the world number 31, as she bombed out 6-0, 6-1.
Croatian 19th seed Donna Vekic also crashed to a lower-ranked opposition when she lost 7-5, 6-3 to Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who just finished dealing with a stress fracture in her foot.
Nadal held the court against fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta after staying up to watch Roger Federer’s late-night thriller with John Millman, which went to a fifth-set tie-breaker.
“I watched it until one o’clock. It was impossible to sleep watching this match,” he said.
Even though he watch it till late night he showed no signs of tiredness, racing through 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in just 1hr 38mins in what he described as the “best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt”.
“I’m improving every day, so super-happy. I did well on my serve and hit good forehands down the line, which is a key shot for me,” Nadal said.
The 33-year-old Rafael Nadal will play meet either Karen Khachanov or Nick Kyrgios, the outspoken Australian with whom he has a running feud.
Kyrgios, who described Nadal as a “super salty” last year, and copied his serving routine during his second-round victory, will face his biggest test yet against the Russian 16th seed, who won their only meeting in Cincinnati in 2019.
Simona Halep put away Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4 to reach the last 16, where she will meet Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who won in three sets against CiCi Bellis, ending the American’s Grand Slam comeback from long-term injury.
She open shrugged off the departure of some of the tournament favourites, claiming that defeats can hit anyone.
“It’s just a tournament, and I’m sure that for you guys (media) it’s a little bit of shock when the top-10 players are losing, but it’s life and we cannot be 100 percent every day,” she said.
Kerber beat Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 to set up a meeting with Russia’s 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who knocked out Pliskova 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3).
“I was about 40 percent today of my game. I don’t know. I was just down,” said Pliskova, who was at a loss to explain her lack of form.