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Aus Open: Nadal, Barty reach fourth round

Melbourne, Feb 13 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 2/13/2021 11:39:45 AM IST

Rafael Nadal beat an impressive Cameron Norrie to reach the Australian Open fourth round and end British interest in the singles competition.Spanish second seed Nadal was able to see off his spirited 69th-ranked opponent 7-5 6-2 7-5.

In women’s singles, World number one Ash Barty overcame  Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4 overat an empty Margaret Court Arena on Saturday. Playing on an empty Rod Laver Arena after Melbourne entered lockdown, Nadal was not at his rhythmic best but he held off a confident-looking Norrie. The 20-time Grand Slam champion will play Italy’s Fabio Fognini next.
Norrie claimed the first break of the match and hung in well against Nadal, but there was no stopping the Spaniard when he upped his tempo. Nadal showed occasional hints on serve of a back problem that has bothered him since his arrival in Australia but he moved and hit freely. Nadal has yet to drop a set in Melbourne despite being, by his own admission, not near his best.
Norrie played well, saving six of the 12 break points he faced, but although he would get to 0-30 on the Nadal serve he could not find a way through. His early break was cancelled out straight away by Nadal and a tight first set ended with a long forehand from the British number three. He was able to hang in with Nadal on the long rallies, saving break points to start the second and third set, but Nadal’s extra pace, particularly on the forehand, broke through his defences.
Nadal grew frustrated at times with the odd shot drifting long, but he was able to up his quality when it mattered to win in two hours 15 minutes.
Norrie was the last Briton standing in the singles for a second Grand Slam in a row, after he reached the third round of the US Open in September. There are still British hopes in the doubles, led by Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury, and the wheelchair events, which start on Sunday. World number one Ash Barty overcame a stumbling start to reach the fourth round of the Australian at an empty Margaret Court Arena on Saturday. The top-seeded Australian was broken in her first service game but quickly rallied to take the first set when the Russian slapped the ball into the net for her 16th unforced error. Showing no signs of being hampered by her heavily strapped left thigh, Barty battled back after being broken again in the second set and secured the victory with a fifth and final break of serve. The 2019 French Open champion, who is looking to become the first homegrown Australian Open singles champion since 1978, will play American Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarter-finals.
Bopanna bows out of mixed doubles event 
Veteran Rohan Bopanna crashed out of the mixed doubles event with a straight-set loss in the opening round to draw curtains on India’s campaign at this year’s Australian Open here on Saturday. Bopanna and his Chinese partner Yingying Duan lost 4-6 4-6 to the pair of American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and United Kingdom’s Jamie Murray in a first round match that lasted an hour and three minutes. Bopanna and Japan’s Ben McLachlan had earlier bowed out of the men’s doubles event after a 4-6 6-7 (0) defeat to the Korean wild card pair of Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song in an opening-round match. Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina had already crashed out of the men’s and women’s doubles events after suffering straight-set defeats in the opening round on Thursday.
Ankita, the fifth Indian woman tennis player ever to secure a place in the main draw of a Grand Slam event, and her partner Mihaela Buzarnecu of Romania lost 3-6 0-6 at the hands of Australian wild cards Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock. Divij and his Slovakian teammate Igor Zelenay lost 1-6 4-6 to the German combination of Yannick Hanfmann Kevin Krawietz in the first round.
 

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