Nadal survives Monfils fightback to reach quarter-finals
MELBOURNE Rafa Nadal returned to the grand slam big-time by fending off Gael Monfils 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4 in a tense clash on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.
MADRID Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he is unaffected by criticism but admitted his side need to improve in all areas as they try to end a run of four games without a win when they travel to Real Betis on Saturday.
Real have drawn their last four games in all competitions, the first time they had done so in over a decade, and are missing four key players for the game with Betis, who were the first team to take points off Zidane last season.
"I'm not going to comment on what people say, I have always accepted criticism. I was critical of myself when I was a player and I'm going to the same now," Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
"I know where I am and I know if you draw three league games you have to change something. The players know that too, we need more concentration, more of everything."
The chief criticism aimed at Zidane is a failure to instill a recognisable style of play in nine months in charge, despite guiding Real to Champions League glory last season and overseeing 16 consecutive league wins.
The former midfield great, however, said hard work was the only solution to Real's problems.
"Work is what will take us out of this run because the talent is there and the players are professionals. We prepare the games well but perhaps we need to prepare a little better, starting with me," he added.
"I didn't invent football, I just want the players to do what they know best and what we've done many times before. We had a great six months and I want to find that level again."
Real slumped to a shock 1-1 draw at home to La Liga minnows Eibar before the international break, missing influential midfield trio Casemiro, Luka Modric and James Rordriguez, who are all injured for the visit to Betis.
The European champions' injury crisis deepened when Sergio Ramos strained his knee on international duty for Spain. He is expected to be out until late November.
"Sergio is our captain and he gives everything on the pitch so it's frustrating to be without him but there's nothing we can do about it," Zidane added.
The plus side for Real is that left back Marcelo is available again after overcoming a calf problem.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)
MELBOURNE Seeing world number 50 Mischa Zverev and wildcard Denis Istomin upset the top two players in the world at Melbourne Park shows more players believe they can take shake up the established order and that can only be good for tennis, says Roger Federer.
SYDNEY Australia opening batsman David Warner won the Allan Border Medal on Monday for the second year in row, becoming only the fourth player to achieve that feat.