And that the story began with scare.
While completing the liturgy in the chair, before getting up and going to the service line to start the match, Rafael Nadal received astonished the visit of the doctor and the physio of the tournament. Red light, because it is already known that the Spaniard limps from the back and the scene after the warm-up produced cold sweats, because he had not asked for anything at all. Everything was in a false alarm. "No, it's not here …!", Said the champion of 20 grand with laughter to the two clueless, who collected the equipment and went, let's trust, to the correct track to attend to the affected. Later, the Spanish played and convinced against Fabio Fognini in the direction of the quarterfinals of this Australian Open, gradually forgetting the pain in his lower back: 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2, in 2h 16m. Nadal gets serious
'Djokovic hides less than he should', by TONI NADAL Nadal's back responds
After three rounds more aware of the response of his back than of anything else, because Djere, Mmoh and to a lesser degree Norrie, the Mallorcan was finally able to concentrate on the true benefits of his game and the check-up did not go bad at all. In front, the unpredictable Fognini, all or nothing, as brilliant as it is desperate; the man who turned him over in New York six years ago, doing what sounds like the impossible: going back two sets to Nadal. In any case, already a test with capital letters. And the result was more than satisfactory, because the Spaniard spread his wings and entered the hot fringe of the tournament putting one more gear, catching the bull by the horns and warning: now yes, if nothing fails, I'm here.
It was a Duel resolved from the bottoms and entertaining, in which Nadal took the reins and Fognini, lazy, as always, went from less to more. It seems that the thing does not go with him, but it is deceiving. The Italian tried to find the upper zone of the opponent's backhand and entangle with changes of pace, accelerating and slowing down to destabilize. Water. He debated for the first two sets, then his wick ran out. The number two squeezed the first set, with an initial break and a formidable response after conceding one in the fifth game, and then kept seeking more and more break options. He let a few trains slip away, but Fognini's surrender was only a matter of time.
quelled the Italian's attempted reaction in the second set, unraveling a small tangle in which a couple of slaps were exchanged and San's Remo disposed after a dangerous 0-40, and began to step on the accelerator: break, 5-4, set and two to zero. The sun was shining in Melbourne, fastball therefore. Too much for Fognini, already a long way off those New York days. Too much for anyone. With the serve much more intoned and recognizable – above 200km / h at times, at 10 km / h more in the seconds compared to the previous three days – the Manacor player continued to press (19 break options) and imposed a cruising speed until setting the third to last round of the tournament without having given up a single set. An ideal situation if you rewind just a few days ago, in which your back took you away from sleep until you found the solution: puncture and forward. Mano de santo.
What could be sensed as a tighter duel, Nadal resolved with authority and decision to meet the winner of the fight between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. "Either one of them will be complicated," he said at the foot of the track; “They are young, strong and with a lot of energy”. Whichever opponent is, he will attend Wednesday's meeting knowing that the Spaniard has made a qualitative leap and that Nadal, after the headaches of the first week, is already more Nadal. The 21 majors are three steps away.
Australian Open: results (Monday 14) and order of play (Tuesday 16) .