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Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Saturday, 22 January 2011

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal overcomes Bernard Tomic

Australian Open, Melbourne
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 17-30 January
Coverage: Watch on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only) & Eurosport; listen on BBC 5 live sports extra and online; text commentary online; full details

Rafael Nadal

Nadal made to sweat by Tomic

World number one Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited challenge from Bernard Tomic to reach the last 16 in Melbourne.

Nadal was not at his best but still managed to earn a straight-sets 6-2 7-5 6-3 win over the Australian to set up a clash with Croatian Marin Cilic.

Fourth seed Robin Soderling also progressed after defeating Jan Hernych.

Soderling will next face Alexandr Dolgopolov after he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny was defeated by Milos Raonic.

Spaniard Nadal survived a break point in his opening service game to cruise through the first set but faced more of a challenge from his 18-year-old opponent in the second.


The nine-times Grand Slam winner was broken in his opening two service games and soon found himself 4-0 down in the second set.

But Nadal showed his class to fight back and staged a remarkable recovery to eventually win the second 7-5.

Tomic was broken in his first service game of the third and despite some scares, Nadal came through the set to win a hard-earned match, though he won only 16 more points (108) than his opponent during the contest.

"I started the match playing well, but he made me play badly and with his position on court it was difficult to move him from the baseline," said Nadal, who hit 32 winners, seven fewer than Tomic.

"He is a very young player and he is definitely going to improve but I know I have to play better if I'm going to progress and I need to be more aggressive."

Soderling, yet to drop a set at this year's tournament, is through to the last 16 for the first time having never previously made it beyond round two. The powerful Swede finished with 33 aces to his opponent's eight in a 6-3 6-1 6-4 win.

The two-time Grand Slam finalist was always in control against qualifier Hernych and is now unbeaten in eight matches this year.

He exchanged breaks with his 241st-ranked opponent in the opening set but moved ahead in game eight before serving out.

The second set was one-way traffic and it was only repairs to a dead spot discovered on the court at the start of the third set that extended the contest to almost two hours.

Hernych was playing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in 19 attempts and launched a gallant rearguard action towards the end, but Soderling rarely needed to move out of first gear.

"Physically, I feel very good," said Soderling, who is working under new Italian coach Claudio Pistolesi.

"I haven't spent too many hours on court and I'm already in the fourth round, which is very good and an advantage for me."

Next up is the unseeded Ukrainian Dolgopolov following his shock victory over 2008 runner-up Tsonga.

The French 12th seed led by two sets to one but his game then unravelled and Dologopov, in his maiden Grand Slam third round, triumphed 3-6 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-1.

"He was better than me, that's it. He played a better match and was more consistent than me," said Tsonga, who suggested he was lacking match fitness after an injury-plagued 2010.

I felt I stayed there the whole match and I had the intensity and level you need against a top-10 player - it's something I'm really proud of

Milos Raonic

"Sometimes you have some problems to really concentrate - I think I lost this match because I need more matches, more competition.

"Every day I try to get back on top. I was injured for long months."

A far bigger shock came on Show Court 3, where Raonic stunned 2008 quarter-finalist and two-time US Open semi-finalist Youzhny.

The Montenegro-born 20-year-old has no titles and a career-high ranking of 152 but played with the composure of a seasoned campaigner to close out the match 6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4.

"It's a really nice stage to show, at a Grand Slam, because it's tougher to beat these top guys, especially in three out of five sets, knowing after two sets they have a chance to get back," he said.

"I felt I stayed there the whole match and I had the intensity and level you need against a top-10 player. It's something I'm really proud of."

The 6ft 5in right-hander, who hit the fastest serve of the tournament at 143mph in Thursday's win over 22nd seed Michael Llodra, is now projected to enter the top 100.

He added: "What I'm doing well is I'm playing my game and I'm imposing my game.

"I feel like my serve allows me to play more freely also on the return games, because I know most of the time I will be holding serve.

"So it allows me to take less pressure on myself and play more freely, whereas I feel it also puts more pressure on the other guy."

Raonic, who had never beaten a top-10 player before but finished with 64 winners and 31 aces, will next face seventh seed David Ferrer.

The Spaniard eased past Michael Russell on Thursday and was similarly comfortable in his third-round 6-2 6-1 6-1 win against Richard Berankis of Lithuania.

Cilic outlasted fellow marathon man John Isner in a gruelling five-set clash.

Cilic, who won three five-setters in Melbourne last year, eventually prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/2) 9-7 in four hours and 33 minutes over Isner, who won tennis's longest ever match at Wimbledon in 2010.

Cilic claimed the fifth set on a rare break of the American's serve, just when it was looking like the pair might challenge the record for the longest match here, which stands at five hours and 14 minutes.

Austrian Jurgen Melzer set up a clash with Britain's Andy Murray after he beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 6-1 4-3 (ret).

Things started well for Baghdatis, who won a first-set tie-break, but the Cypriot lost the next two sets before he was forced to retire with a hand injury.

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see also
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Men's singles latest
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Women's singles latest
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Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
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