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Australian Open

Ageless Spaniard Rafael Nadal downs German teenager Alexander Zverev at Australian Open

The 30-year-old wins 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2 to set up a fourth round meeting with Frenchman Gael Monfils

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 11:38pm

Rafael Nadal’s ageing legs outlasted German teenager Alexander Zverev in an epic five sets to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Nadal needed all his trademark grit against Zverev, 19, dubbed “the future of tennis”, and his superior fitness told as he ground out a thrilling 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2 win.

Germany’s Zverev looked in discomfort as he won a punishing 37-shot rally nearly four hours into their contest as Nadal, still full of running, pressed his advantage in the final set.

It means Nadal, 30, follows fellow veteran Roger Federer into the last 16 of a contest now missing defending champion Novak Djokovic after his stunning defeat to Denis Istomin.

“Everybody knows how good Alexander is,” said Nadal, who will play France’s Gael Monfils in the fourth round. “He’s the future of our sport, and the present.”

Elsewhere 117th-ranked Istomin built on his win over Djokovic by beating Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the last 16 for the first time.

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David Goffin halted towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who won a tournament-record 84-game match in the first round, to set up a clash against Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem.

“I was ready to fight until midnight if I had to,” grinned the Belgian.

Roberto Bautista Agut beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 and will next play third seed Milos Raonic, who beat Gilles Simon 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3.