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Rafa keeps rolling along


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Rafa keeps rolling along

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MELBOURNE- The “Rafa Slam” is still alive after Rafael Nadal beat Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 at the Australian Open yesterday to maintain his chance of owning all four Grand Slam trophies at once.
That’s a feat which hasn’t been achieved since Rod Laver won four majors in 1969.
Playing on Melbourne Park’s centre court that is named after the Australian legend, Nadal advanced to a quarter-final against Spain’s David Ferrer as he attempts to add to the Grand Slam titles he won last year at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Nadal hasn’t dropped a set through four rounds at Melbourne Park, despite carrying the effects of a virus he picked up two weeks ago in Qatar.
“Before the match I was a little bit nervous,” Nadal said. “I know how aggressive he can play.
I think I played my best match this year here at the Australian Open.”
At Nadal’s previous match, he sweated profusely in a night match on Saturday, saying he was still feeling the effects of the virus.
Yesterday, thanks to cooler weather in Melbourne and his slow recovery, the problem had abated.
“I’m not sweating that much tonight,” Nadal said. “The two other days I was sweating like crazy and I felt very tired when I played the match. Today was the first day I felt perfect physically.”
A capacity crowd of 15 000 that included American country music star Kenny Rogers — sitting next to seven-time Grand Slam singles winner Evonne Goolagong Cawley of Australia — saw Nadal struggle at times on his serve.
The fourth game went to deuce four times, but Nadal finally prevailed on his service with a forehand smash at the net, followed shortly by his patented “Vamos” as he walked to the back of the court.
Earlier, fifth-seeded Andy Murray also advanced to the quarter-finals, setting up a possible semi-final with Nadal.
“I don’t want to get carried away,” Murray said after his 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over Jurgen Melzer of Austria. “I’ve never won one of these things before.”
The win put Murray closer to a second straight appearance in the final at Melbourne Park, where he lost to Roger Federer last year after beating Nadal in the quarter-finals.
He also came close to ending a woeful British streak – no male winner of a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936 – at the 2008 US Open, where he lost the final to Federer.
Before Murray gets a potential crack at Nadal, he’ll face an unexpected quarter-final rival after 22-year-old Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov had an upset 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over fourth-seeded Robin Soderling, ending the French Open finalist’s eight-match winning streak. (AP)

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