Millennium Post

Nadal shakes off rust, keeps going

Nadal shakes off rust, keeps going
Maria Sharapova was all business as she raced into the Australian Open quarterfinal on Sunday to set up a glamour showdown with Eugenie Bouchard, as Rafael Nadal continued his unrelenting Grand Slam march.

The Russian world number two ended Chinese hopes by swatting aside 21st seed Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-0, lifting her game the deeper she gets in the tournament. It hands organisers a dream last eight clash between two of the most marketable players on tour with Canadian seventh seed Bouchard surviving a mid-match slump to defeat unseeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in three sets.

Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, was dominant after a tight first set against power-hitting South African Kevin Anderson, running out a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 winner and will next play Czech Tomas Berdych for a place in the semi-finals.

The consistent Berdych, who made the final four last year, ended Australian Bernard Tomic’s tournament with a comfortable 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 hit-out.

“After a tough period of time for me it’s a fantastic result and I’m very happy with the way I played on Sunday. It was probably my best match here this year so that’s very important for me and very special,” said Nadal, who came into the tournament after a three-month injury layoff.

Three-time runner-up Andy Murray rode his luck to fight back and win a titanic four-setter over Grigor Dimitrov to reach the quarter-final.Sixth seed Murray beat the 10th seeded Bulgarian 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5 and will now play Australian teenager Nick Krygios in the last eight.

Sharapova, gunning for a sixth Grand Slam title and her first in Australia since 2008, said her match against Peng was tougher than the score suggested. “I’ve always had a little trouble against Peng Shuai, she’s a really tough competitor,” she said. The Russian added Bouchard, the tour’s most consistent performer at Grand Slams last year who pushed her in their French Open semifinal, would be another big challenge.

“She’s been playing incredibly well, confident aggressive tennis. I have a tough match ahead of me,” she said. The popular Bouchard is widely seen as a future major champion after her semifinal appearance at Melbourne Park last year, a feat she matched in Paris before making the Wimbledon final.

It didn’t go all her way against Begu, who sparked to life in the second set to push the ambitious 20-year-old to a third before winning 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Bouchard has met Sharapova three times before, losing all. Russian 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova also progressed, blitzing unseeded German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2. She is yet to drop a set and will next play the winner of the night match between third seeded Romanian Simona Halep and unseeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
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