2020 Australian Open Day 8: Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem reach quarterfinals, Kerber falls

Rafael Nadal beat Nick Kyrgios to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

This post will be updated with the latest action from Day 8 of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Dominic Thiem upsets Gael Monfils

After a rough stretch of Grand Slam appearances, Dominic Thiem flew past No. 10 Gael Monfils on Monday at the Australian Open in the fourth round.

Thiem didn’t face a single break point in the opening set, and fended off Monfils in the second set after he tied it up 3-3. 

Thiem won the match 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, and will now advance to the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time.

“I think that I played my best match so far of this Australian Open. A very, very good feeling,” Thiem said, via ATP. “The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and then was managing to hold my serve well. I’m so happy because I’m for the first time in the quarterfinals here.”

Thiem, though, has a tough match ahead of him. 

The winner of Rafael Nadal’s match against Australian Nick Kyrgios is due to take on Thiem in the quarterfinals. With Nadal being the top seed and Kyrgios holding a home court advantage, things could prove difficult for the 26-year-old. 

He, though, isn’t worried.

“I couldn’t be happier to be done, to be in the quarterfinals and to watch that relaxed from home. I’m also very excited for that match,” Thiem said. “Obviously it’s going to be such an entertaining contest tonight and then also in two days. It doesn’t matter who I face. So I’m really excited to watch that match and may the better one win tonight.”

Rafael Nadal victorious over Nick Kyrgios

It took four hard-fought sets, but No. 1 Rafael Nadal emerged victorious over No. 23 Nick Kyrgios. Nadal took the match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4).

The match started badly for Kyrgios, who seemed tired as he made a number of unforced errors. He dropped the first set, but roared back in the second set to make it an even 1-1. The third set lasted a tense 72 minutes and ended with a tiebreaker that Kyrgios lost despite coming back from a 4-1 deficit.

Several times in the fourth set it looked like Kyrgios was done, but he kept fighting back, and Nadal just couldn’t put him away. Nadal served for the match at 5-4, but gave Kyrgios two break points instead. Kyrgios tied it up and sent the set to another tiebreaker, but his magic had run out; Nadal won the final tiebreaker and the match. In the end, Nadal played at the top of his game, and while Kyrgios came close to breaking through, he couldn’t quite manage it.

Both athletes paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, who died with eight others in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Kyrgios is a well-known basketball fan, and walked onto the court wearing a Bryant jersey while wiping away tears.

Nadal wore a Nike Lakers cap during his postgame interview, and spoke of how Kobe’s competitive drive inspired people everywhere.

Nadal will face Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals.

Angelique Kerber stunned by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Upsets have been the prominent storyline for the women at the Australian Open, and Day 8 served up another one. No. 17 Angelique Kerber fell to No. 30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-2 in a nail-biter of a match.

The first two sets were tight and hotly contested. Pavlyuchenkova got off to a 5-2 start and seemed unstoppable, but she opened the door with several drop shots that backfired on her. Kerber saw that opening and burst through the door, roaring to a comeback to win the first set and the tiebreaker.

Pavlyuchenkova didn’t face a single break point in the second set, playing much wiser tennis to make up for those drop shots in the first set. Kerber fought back and the set went to another tiebreaker, but Pavlyuchenkova smashed winner after winner and was on a roll. Kerber couldn’t compete with Pavlyuchenkova’s momentum, winning just two games in the final set.

Pavlyuchenkova will face former world No. 1 Garbiñe Muguruza in the quarterfinals.

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