Nadal repels Khachanov to reach last-16 in Melbourne

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his third round match against Russia’s Karen Khachanov at Melbourne Park, January 21, 2022. — Reuters pic

MELBOURNE, Jan 21 — Sixth seed Rafa Nadal dropped his first set at this year’s Australian Open but still powered through to the fourth round with a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1 defeat of Karen Khachanov today.

The Spaniard, seeking to claim a record 21st Grand Slam title in the absence of great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was sensational as he took a two-set lead.

But Khachanov, seeded 28th, threw caution to the wind in the third set, stalling Nadal’s charge with some ferocious hitting.

Olympic runner-up Khachanov had lost all seven previous meetings with 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal but briefly looked capable of mounting a comeback.

Nadal seized back control with a break of serve at the start of the fourth, however, and with the clock having ticked past midnight on Rod Laver Arena he finished it off in a hurry.

Nadal, who has reached the last-16 in Melbourne for the 15th time in 17 appearances, will face another Russian, 18th seed Aslan Karatsev, or Frenchman Adrian Mannarino next.

“I played a great player tonight and happy that this was my best match since coming back,” the 35-year-old Nadal, who missed the second half of 2021 with a foot injury, said on court.

“I’ve been going through some tough times in the last year but night’s like tonight mean everything.”

With Federer still injured and nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic deported after a visa row, Nadal has a chance to edge ahead of that duo with whom he shares the record for most men’s Grand Slam titles.

After routine wins against 66th-ranked American Marcos Giron and German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in rounds one and two, Khachanov represented a step up in class for Nadal despite the Russian having only ever won one set off the Mallorcan.

Nadal was primed though and won 12 of the first 13 points to stamp his authority all over the court.

Khachanov had no answer to Nadal’s intensity and managed to win only one point on Nadal’s serve in the opening set.

Nadal broke serve at the start of the second set but Khachanov won an incredible point in the fourth game, picking himself off the floor to crunch a backhand winner and then winning another incredible rally to earn a break point.

He could not convert that and Nadal immediately broke in the next game on his way to a two-set lead.

Khachanov began to hit closer to the lines and with more menace in the third set, which he took after breaking the Nadal’s serve for the first time for a 3-1 lead.

Nadal simply found another gear though, firing a stunning backhand winner to break Khachanov’s serve, and spirit, in the second game of the fourth set. — Reuters

Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s Asian Games status up in the air, as Hong Kong cycling team target track World Championships

Buffalo in the bucket hat! Injured Rangers star Alfredo Morelos takes to the streets of Seville as he is mobbed by fans ahead of Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt

Rangers Women star Nicola Docherty admits she'll by crying in Seville if Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men win the Europa League against Frankfurt... as she hails the 'fantastic' one-club mentality after winning the league title with her childhood team

UFC 'are planning August 20 showdown between Kamaru Usman and British star Leon Edwards' if champion recovers from hand injury

Minamino seems happy to revel in his cult hero status and Origi has a knack for big goals but Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gomez need more game time... Klopp's 'Ferraris in the garage' at Liverpool and whether they're really content with a bit-part role

Xi Jinping’s dream of China hosting the Fifa World Cup now appears to be further away than ever

Biniam Girmay pulls out of the Giro d'Italia after suffering bleeding to his EYE when he was struck by an exploding champagne cork on the podium... just moments after making history by becoming the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage

'I was p****d off and people haven't taken me seriously': Tony Ferguson opens up on 'underlying' problems he has with the UFC and hits out at executive for 'forgetting he signed a contract'

Fuming Liverpool fans accuse legendary Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler of describing their goals 'like a reading at a funeral' - and he even admits 'we support the underdogs... you can't call Liverpool an underdog'

Concerns over Rangers' fans have dominated the build-up to their Europa League final with Frankfurt but now the focus is on the pitch... Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side stand on the brink of European glory in Seville

Manchester United 'are in talks with Ajax over £35m deal for Jurrien Timber - with Erik ten Hag wanting to bring young defensive star with him to Old Trafford as his first signing'

England name Australia's Matthew Mott as their new white-ball coach... with three-time women's World Cup-winning supremo pipping Paul Collingwood to role after signing a four-year deal with the ECB

Hong Kong cricket captain Kary Chan welcomes FairBreak decision to return to city in 2023

Video shows Eileen Gu back on half-pipe after 3 month break, says she is ‘fallin in love all over again’

Arsenal and Liverpool target Cody Gakpo admits 'anything can happen this summer' regarding his future... but the Dutch Player of the Year insists he MUST be playing regularly ahead of World Cup in Qatar

Manchester United should sign Jarrod Bowen from West Ham - and he 'would get in the team wherever he likes!', insists Andy Townsend

NEWS RELATED

'He's the best batsman after Joe Root': England cricket chief Rob Key backs captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum to unlock the talent of Ollie Pope... with Surrey star to bat for first time in problem spot of No 3 against New Zealand

England begin new era under Stokes with mix of young and experienced players Pope will bat out of position at No 3 for England in first Test against New ZealandNew coach McCullum begins his stint with a Test series against his homeland 

View more: 'He's the best batsman after Joe Root': England cricket chief Rob Key backs captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum to unlock the talent of Ollie Pope... with Surrey star to bat for first time in problem spot of No 3 against New Zealand

'It's straight forward, I'm here to win': Joshua Buatsi vows to defeat Craig Richards in their grudge match on Saturday as the pair close in on a title shot... but 'Spider' aims to show why he's one of the world's best and insists he can beat Dmitry Bivol

Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards square off on Saturday night at the O2 ArenaA shot at Dmitry Bivol could await the winner of the south London grudge matchRichards lost on points to the Russian last year but put in an impressive showingBuatsi (15-0) faces his first genuine acid test since entering the pro ranks Sign up here to watch the fight exclusively on DAZN

View more: 'It's straight forward, I'm here to win': Joshua Buatsi vows to defeat Craig Richards in their grudge match on Saturday as the pair close in on a title shot... but 'Spider' aims to show why he's one of the world's best and insists he can beat Dmitry Bivol

Mauricio Pochettino is the manager Man United need at the moment - not Antonio Conte - insists Teddy Sheringham... as ex-Man United and Tottenham striker claims Italian is the 'perfect fit' for the north London side

Antonio Conte was linked with the Man United job at the start of the season But he joined Tottenham before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by United Gary Neville claimed in October the Italian was not the right fit for his old club Teddy Sheringham agrees, claiming Mauricio Pochettino is the perfect fit

View more: Mauricio Pochettino is the manager Man United need at the moment - not Antonio Conte - insists Teddy Sheringham... as ex-Man United and Tottenham striker claims Italian is the 'perfect fit' for the north London side

Premier League presentation teams will be at Man City AND Liverpool as title race goes down to the wire... but the genuine trophy will be at the Etihad as official's expect Pep Guardiola's side to secure fourth crown in five seasons

The winner of the Premier League season will be crowned on Sunday afternoonManchester City are set to take on Aston Villa and win will secure them the title If City lose and Liverpool beat Wolves, they will secure the Premier League title Officials have confirmed they will set up identical presentations both stadiumsThe genuine trophy will be at the Etihad and a replica trophy will be at Liverpool

View more: Premier League presentation teams will be at Man City AND Liverpool as title race goes down to the wire... but the genuine trophy will be at the Etihad as official's expect Pep Guardiola's side to secure fourth crown in five seasons

'That doesn't define the man you are today': Jake Daniels insists he's 'proud' to be Marvin Ekpiteta's Blackpool team-mate despite his historic homophobic social media posts that emerged in the wake of the 17-year-old coming out as gay

Jake Daniels, the 17-year-old Blackpool forward, came out as the first openly gay male footballer in Britain since 1990Following Daniels' announcement, posts made by team-mate Marvin Ekpiteta from 2012 and 2013 containing homophobic tones were highlighted Ekpiteta, 26, subsequently deleted the offending posts and on Tuesday evening issued an unreserved apologyHe expressed regret for his actions a decade ago 'which do not in any way reflect the values I hold now'Daniels tweeted his support to Ekpiteta, saying the post 'doesn't define the man you are today' and insisted he is 'proud to be your teammate'

View more: 'That doesn't define the man you are today': Jake Daniels insists he's 'proud' to be Marvin Ekpiteta's Blackpool team-mate despite his historic homophobic social media posts that emerged in the wake of the 17-year-old coming out as gay

Tottenham 'target John McGinn as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his midfield with Aston Villa star for expected Champions League campaign next season'

Tottenham are interested in signing Villa midfielder John McGinn in the summerAntonio Conte is looking to add six new players to the current Tottenham squadHe thinks those new faces will help Spurs challenge from trophies next seasonMcGinn has been an ever-present figure in the Aston Villa squad this season 

View more: Tottenham 'target John McGinn as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his midfield with Aston Villa star for expected Champions League campaign next season'

Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa faces a race to be fit for next season after suffering a serious knee injury in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace... but boss Steven Gerrard allays fears he sustained ACL damage

Ezri Konsa suffered a knee injury against Crystal Palace in Sunday's 1-1 drawThe injury was first thought to be worse, with physios fearing ACL damageHe will miss 'three to four months', including Villa's final two games this season Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has a training knock and is a doubt for Thursday

View more: Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa faces a race to be fit for next season after suffering a serious knee injury in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace... but boss Steven Gerrard allays fears he sustained ACL damage

'It's going to be special': Frank Lampard urges Everton to 'tap into the atmosphere' at Goodison Park and pull themselves clear of relegation in their last home game against Crystal Palace

Frank Lampard has encouraged Everton players to feed off the crowd's energy The Toffees host Crystal Palace on Thursday in their final game of the campaignLampard is desperate for his side to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone 

View more: 'It's going to be special': Frank Lampard urges Everton to 'tap into the atmosphere' at Goodison Park and pull themselves clear of relegation in their last home game against Crystal Palace

Belgium recall big-name stars Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard for June's Nations League matches - but Roberto Martinez drops Christian Benteke and Divock Origi

Dan Biggar is confirmed as Wales captain for South Africa tour, with uncapped Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell included in 33-man squad

Chelsea 'will look to complete deal for £59m Sevilla star Jules Kounde as soon as Todd Boehly's takeover is complete and UK Government sanctions end' - amid summer exodus of defenders from Stamford Bridge

'He wasn't able to play... and it wasn't the first time': Thomas Tuchel reveals Andreas Christensen has pulled out of MULTIPLE matches, before Chelsea halt questions on under-fire Barcelona-bound star

US Soccer agrees equal pay deal for women’s and men’s teams

'That Aguero goal must've got to him!': Wayne Rooney's bearded High Court appearance is mocked by former QPR keeper Paddy Kenny, who let in Man City's title-winning goal in 2012... and reckons he looks better aged 44

Should I do upper body exercises for trail running? How weight and core training improves performance and resilience

British UFC star Lerone Murphy survives ANOTHER near-death experience after being hit by car and 'almost bleeding out' as he details horrific ordeal, with ambulance taking 45 minutes to arrive... nine years after he was shot in the face and neck

Blackburn holding off Man United, Chelsea securing the crown in style against Wigan and THAT Aguero day... the EIGHT times the Premier League title went to the wire as Liverpool chase Man City

REVEALED: Nottingham Forest could be forced to play their first Premier League game this century behind closed doors after a ‘scumbag’ fan headbutted Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp on the pitch

Manchester United 'face fight with Real Madrid and PSG to sign Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - and Lazio have now put £68m price tag on his head' after outstanding season in Serie A

Angel Di Maria 'feels BETRAYED' by Paris Saint-Germain with the Argentina winger set to leave the club against his wishes this summer... with no send-off planned by the Ligue 1 champions after his seven-year stint

OTHER NEWS