Rafael Nadal looks to continue his charge to the Australia Open final on Saturday afternoon, taking on his countryman Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the last 16. He still looks the most likely to make the final on his half of the draw that also includes Daniil Medvedev.
Carreno Busta has always been seen as a clay specialist but he does have a host of good performances on hard courts – most notably his 2017 US Open semi final. He also has two straight fourth rounds at the Australian Open and may well have fancied his chances to make that three with a kinder draw. Josef Kovalik and Peter Gojowczyk were sent packing in four sets to help him on his way to this stage.
Nadal was fairly wasteful in his straight sets win over Federico Delbonis but is unlikely to be too concerned given that he didn’t face a single one in the 6-3 7-6 6-1 victory. “It was the first time playing during the evening here, and the conditions were cooler and slow,” said Nadal afterwards. “It was a tough match, I lost an awful lot of opportunities on the break points, but I found a way to win. I think in the third set, I was more relaxed and play aggressively.”
A Monday night clash under the Rod Laver Arena lights with Nick Kyrgios awaits if the Australian can hold up his end of the bargain and defeat Karen Khachanov on Saturday as well. Nadal should have no trouble in seeing off his fellow Spaniard who will just not have anything other in his arsenal to damage the World No.1. Nadal currently has a 4-0 record and it should just be a matter of how long it takes for him to make that five wins.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets