Australian Open: Alexander Zverev upset as Rafael Nadal makes quarterfinals

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Denis Shapovalov upset third-seeded Alexander Zverev to move into an Australian Open quarterfinal match against Rafael Nadal.

The No. 14-seeded Shapovalov is into the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time.

The 22-year-old Canadian finished off a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Olympic gold medalist Zverev on Margaret Court Arena less than an hour after Nadal secured his spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 14th time.

Shapovalov spent almost 11 hours on court through the first three rounds, winning twice in four sets and once in five, and was surprised by the relative speed of his 2-hour, 21-minute win over Zverev.

“Probably the one I least expected to finish in three,” he said. “Definitely happy with where the game is at. I played pretty smart today.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Nadal got the better of an almost 29-minute tiebreaker in the first set on his way to beating Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (14), 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

After fending off four set points and being unable to convert the first six of his own, Nadal finally clinched a 28-minute and 40-second tiebreaker in the opening set to get himself on course to secure a spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 14th time.

Now, Nadal is potentially just three wins away from a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

“First set (was) very, very emotional,” Nadal said. “Anything could happen there. I was a little bit lucky at the end. I had chances, he had a lot of chances too.”

Nadal is now tied with John Newcombe in the second spot on the all-time list for most quarterfinals in Australia, one behind Roger Federer’s 15.

It’s also the Spaniard’s 45th time into the last eight at a Grand Slam tournament, which is third on the all-time behind Federer (58) and Novak Djokovic (51).

He shares the men’s record of 20 major titles with Federer and Djokovic. But he’s the only one of the trio playing in this tournament.

Mannarino, who didn’t finish his third-round win until after 2 a.m. on Saturday and appeared to be hampered at times by an abdominal or upper leg injury, threw everything at Nadal in the opening set on Rod Laver Arena, where temperatures approached 91 degrees.

The first set lasted 85 minutes, including the ’breaker, but after getting early breaks in the second and third sets the match was over in 2 hours, 40 minutes.

“I’m very happy I survived that first set, without a doubt,” Nadal said. “That crazy first set was so important.”

Shapovalov reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open in 2020 and was a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, his career-best run to date at a major. He’ll have to step it up against one of the greatest in the game to again reach the final four.

“It’s always an honor to go up against a guy like Rafa,” Shapovalov said. “It’s always fun. Always going to be a battle against him.”

In the women’s draw, top-ranked Ash Barty reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova.

Barty is aiming to be the first Australian woman to win her home Grand Slam title since 1978 and has gone through the first four rounds without dropping a set. She’s into the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the fourth straight year.

Anisimova was coming off a third-round upset over defending champion Naomi Osaka, when she saved two match points.

She broke Barty’s opening service game of the second set — a first for the tournament — but the two-time major winner responded by breaking back and taking six of the last seven games.

Barty beat Anisimova in the semifinals of the French Open in 2019 on the way to winning her first Grand Slam title.

Asked if it’s a good omen, Barty said “Let’s wait and see.”

Barty will next play No. 21-seeded Jessica Pegula, who beat fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-6 (0), 6-3.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova breezed to a 6-2, 6-2 win over two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in four Grand Slam events.

The fourth-seeded Krejcikova will next play Madison Keys, who reached the semifinals in Australia in 2015 and was runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Keys overpowered eighth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-1 in the first of the fourth-round matches on Day 7 at Rod Laver Arena.

The 26-year-old American, who beat 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round, hit 26 winners and made only 18 unforced errors against Badosa to continue her unbeaten start to 2022. She claimed her sixth career title at a tune-up tournament in Adelaide last week.

Krejcikova went into her match against Azarenka believing the former 32-year-old, former No. 1-ranked player from Belarus was the favorite to win.

But the 2012 and 2013 champion made 28 unforced errors and dropped five service games, and it was all over in 85 minutes.

“She’s a champion here. She likes this court. She’s very experienced on this court. I have a lot of respect for her,” Krejcikova said. But, “I was doing everything to get this one, really preparing for a dream like this.

“And yeah, I’m in the quarterfinals.”

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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