Nadal thrilled by return to grand slam quarter-finals
MELBOURNE Rafa Nadal returned to the grand slam big-time by weathering a furious Gael Monfils fightback to win 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4 and reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was unhappy with the way his side started and finished Thursday's 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia but said he was relatively satisfied to have taken four points from tough World Cup qualifiers in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.
The Socceroos got off to a nervous start at King Abdullah Sports City and fell behind after five minutes to Taiseer Al Jassam's opener, but gradually gained control and silenced the 51,000 crowd with goals from Trent Sainsbury and Tomi Juric.
The Saudis put the visitors under immense pressure in the final quarter and equalised with 10 minutes remaining through substitute striker Nasser Al Shamrani, who was recalled to the squad after an 18-month absence.
Al Shamrani received an eight-match ban in 2014 for spitting at Australian defender Matt Spiranovic after the second leg of the Asian Champions League final in Riyadh.
Australia lead Group B on goal difference from Saudi Arabia with both teams on seven points from three games. The Socceroos host fourth-placed Japan on Tuesday, while Saudi Arabia host United Arab Emirates, who are third in the group.
"Obviously not getting off to an ideal start didn't help. They came out of the blocks pretty quickly," Postecoglou told Fox Sports.
"But we worked our way back into the game really well. And we looked in control and once we got the second we should have maintained that.
"We lost our composure a bit a couple of times and they came into as well with a big crowd behind them. It's a good point but you just feel we could've got more out of it."
While a trip to Japan beckons next August, Postecoglou said he was pleased to come away with four points from two difficult away games. Australia beat UAE 1-0 in Abu Dhabi last month.
"Not many teams will come to these two places and come away with four points," Postecoglou added. "We'll take the point but disappointed we couldn't take the three."
The top two teams in Group A and B qualify automatically for the World Cup in Russia while the third-placed teams meet to decide who goes into a CONCACAF-Asian Zone playoff for a place at the finals.
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien)
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