The Sunday Leader

Australian Open Champion Rafael Nadal Into Fourth Round

Defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-2 2-6 7-5 win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The second seed’s serve was put under pressure and he needed some inventive shots to win in three-and-a-half hours.

Fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro survived some anxious moments before beating the unseeded Florian Mayer.

The 21-year-old US Open champion served 11 aces but was guilty of 46 unforced errors in a 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-5 victory.

Nadal extended his record against Kohlschreiber to 5-0 but it was their closest match to date, and in statistical terms only eight points separated them over the 38 games.

“Well, the most important thing is I won, so I’m happy for that,” the 22-year-old said.

“I am less happy about my game, what I was practising. But everybody has not very good days. “I think I played much better the fourth set. The second set for a few moments I played well, too. But the first set and the third, I played bad and I need to play a little bit more aggressive for my next match.”

That will be against the gargantuan Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who beat compatriot Ivan Ljubicic 6-3 3-6 6-3 7-6.

“He’s always a really difficult opponent because the match is decided on a few points,” said Nadal, who has won both his previous matches against the 6ft 10” Karlovic.

“So the thing is to be very concentrated with my serve all the time and try to convert the small opportunities that I have on the return. That’s it.”

It was another hard-fought victory for Del Potro, who will face Marin Cilic in the fourth round, after the Croatian beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-3.

Del Potro needed four sets to get past American Michael Russell in the opening round and five to overcome another American James Blake in the second.

Having beaten Mayer in straight sets in the second round at last year’s Championship, he found him a much tougher proposition this time, and was only 118-117 ahead on total points won.

Mayer took all three of his break point chances to win the second set to love in only 28 minutes before Del Potro clinched the match following two keenly-contested closing sets.

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