By Ros Satar
- Rafael Nadal edges Nick Kyrgios in an emotionally charged match
- As Angelique Kerber departs, there are no Australian Open champions in the last eight
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Despite the sad news emerging of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, players fought on and the quarter-final were set.
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The match of the night did not fail to live up to its expectations and had more emotion to match. From the sight of a tearful Nick Kyrgios walking on to court in a Lakers jersey in tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, to his fight back to level the match against Rafael Nadal, it looked as though we might even be heading for a deciding set, but the effects of the long match against Karen Khachanov started to take its toll.
The win might have belonged to Nadal but Kyrgios’s actions to kick-start the Bushfire relief with other players and Tennis Australia following suit. Can he continue that kind of impactful play and focus?
He said, after the match: When I woke up to the news, it was pretty emotional. It was pretty heavy, like, all day. If anything, it motivated me. If you look at the things he stood for, what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight. When I was down a break in the fourth, I was definitely thinking about it. I fought back.
“Rafa was really good tonight. Played too good. I mean, I had chances. I was a couple of points away from the third set and the fourth set. It happens. I mean, if anything, it helped me today.
“I feel like I’m playing good tennis. The trouble for me is being able to actually just produce the same attitude over and over again. I mean, hopefully I can keep doing it. I’m just taking it day by day, trying to be positive, just bring positive vibes.”
When Conchita Martinez joined Garbiñe Muguruza and a Wimbledon title was the result, as soon as she split with Sam Sumyk and rehired Martinez, the anticipation was that good things could follow. Overcoming a virus in her first round and a lop-sided result, she has looked in impressive form as she dispatched No.9 seed Kiki Bertens.
Simona Halep looked equally impressive against Elise Mertens, and while juniors were battling, teenager Iga Swiatek was taken the distance by Anett Kontaveit, who the quarter-final of a Slam for the first time.
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2016 Champion Angelique Kerber was on the losing end of one of the best matches of the tournament, taken the distance by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who reached the quarter-final of a Slam, but has never gone further in any Slam. She will face coach Sumyk’s former charge Muguruza.
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