Closing out the day session on Rod Laver Arena is the World No.1 Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard faces Diego Schwartzman, a player who has solidified himself inside the top 30 with little fuss despite his diminutive stature, measuring in at just 5ft7in. Nadal winning today will ensure he remains No.1 for the time being – if he loses, Federer can regain the ranking with a defence of his title.
After escaping a marathon match in round one, Schwartzman has had it easier with 3 set and 4 set wins over Casper Ruud and Alexandr Dolgpolov respectively in the past two rounds. He came from a set down to beat the Ukranian, hitting a surprising 13 aces on his way to victory despite having a far from speedy 118mph on first serves. It will be much tougher for him against Nadal with the Spaniard having already won all 7 sets the pair have played over three matches.
Nadal has been utterly dominant throughout his first three matches, this time losing only 5 games to 28th seed Damir Dzumhur. He won 42 points on return overall and punished the Bosnian’s second serve severely, winning 69% in total there. “I didn’t think about when I arrived how I going to be in two weeks. I am already two weeks and one day here. I just try to go day by day.” he said afterwards. I needed hours of court, hours of practice, hours of playing sets with different players. That’s what I did. I think I did a good preparation here. I felt myself playing well.”
Nadal was extremely complimentary on his opponent although it is hard to be convinced by his suggestion that he may be in danger of losing. “He’s a very complete player. Being honest, he’s a player that if I don’t play my best, probably I don’t going to win. He’s a player that have all the shots, big control from the baseline, don’t miss much. He’s able to change directions easy.” he said.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in three sets