Australian Open 2017

Rafael Nadal jokes his girlfriend got Australian Open ‘wild card’ after win over Gael Monfils

Fourteen-time major winner survives fightback from Frenchman to reach first grand slam quarter-final since 2015 French Open

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 9:50pm

Rafael Nadal is usually quite articulate in his on-court interviews in Rod Laver Arena with Jim Courier, a former player turned commentator with a knack for getting the players to loosen up.

But after his 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 fourth-round win over Gael Monfils on Monday, Nadal was momentarily at a loss for words.

When Courier noted this is the first time in 10 trips to the Australian Open that Nadal had brought his girlfriend with him, the Spaniard quipped, “After 10 years finally, my girlfriend gets a wild card to come here.”

As Nadal’s girlfriend, Xisca Perello, laughed in the stands, along with the rest of the crowd, Courier pressed Nadal on why she would need a wild card to make the trip. Isn’t she a main draw player?

Nadal started to say something, then paused.

“You know,” he said with a smile. “Better we stop here.”

With victory against Monfils, the Spaniard progressed to his 30th Grand Slam quarterfinal, and first since the 2015 French Open,

After a match in which Nadal had difficulty converting break points — six of 17 — he clinched it on his second match point with Monfils serving.

Nadal will next play third-seeded Milos Raonic, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut earlier Monday. Raonic is the highest-ranked men’s seed remaining after top-seeded Andy Murray lost in the fourth round and No. 2-seeded Novak Djokovic in the second.