News: Rafael Nadal beats Alexander Zverev in Australian Open
Fourteen-time major winner Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open but he has had to do it the hard way, needing five sets to overcome rising German superstar Alexander Zverev.
The Spanish number nine seed came from two sets to one down on Saturday to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2 in an epic encounter which lasted four hours and six minutes.
Nadal said the key to the win was “fighting and running a lot”.
“Everybody knows how good Alexander is – he’s the future of our sport and the present too,” said the 30-year-old Nadal.
“It was a very tough match for me.”
The 24th-seeded German cramped up midway through the final set and Nadal seized the opportunity, claiming a crucial break of serve in the fifth game.
“It’s not the ideal finish for him and I know he suffered a lot in two games,” said Nadal.
“I needed to be focused – and to get the second break, I had to play some great points.”
Zverev, 19, had butchered a match point before losing his only previous encounter against Nadal last year at Indian Wells.
Nadal will play French number six seed Gael Monfils or German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth round at Melbourne Park