MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal, chasing a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title, breezed past compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday.
Nadal cruised to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win to set up a last-16 clash with home favourite Nick Kyrgios, who needed nearly four-and-a-half hours to win 6-2 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-7(7) 7-6(8) against Russian Karen Khachanov.
Kyrgios leads 2-1 in his head-to-head record on hardcourts against Nadal, but lost their previous meeting on grass at Wimbledon last year.
Fifth seed Dominic Thiem set up a clash with France’s Gael Monfils after overcoming Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4.
There were more upsets in the women’s draw, with Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic all falling to straight-set defeats.
Former world number one Garbine Muguruza thrashed Svitolina 6-1 6-2, while Czech Pliskova lost 7-6(4) 7-6(3) to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Sixth seed Bencic struggled to find any sort of rhythm in a 6-0 6-1 hammering by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.
Highlights of the sixth day at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, on Saturday (times AEDT; GMT+11):
2340 KYRGIOS OUTLASTS KHACHANOV IN FOUR-HOUR EPIC
Home favourite Nick Kyrgios recorded 97 winners in a 6-2 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-7(7) 7-6(8) win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov, setting up a blockbuster fourth-round meeting with top seed Rafa Nadal.
Kiki Bertens has quietly moved into the second week of the tournament without dropping a set.
The Dutchwoman overcame Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2 7-6(3).
2230 MEDVEDEV RACES INTO LAST-16
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev needed less than two hours to beat local hope Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 as the Russian reached the fourth round and matched his best run at Melbourne Park.
He will next face 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka.
Seventh seed Alexander Zverev racked up 34 winners as he eased past Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-2 6-4 to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for a second straight year.
Former world number one Garbine Muguruza, whose Australian Open preparations were affected by a viral illness, showed no lingering effects as she mowed down fifth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-1 6-2.
Swiss Stan Wawrinka won the opening set 6-4 and raced ahead 4-1 in the second before his American opponent John Isner withdrew from the third-round contest due to injury.
Russian Andrey Rublev, the winner of two titles this year, continued his unbeaten start to 2020 by beating David Goffin 2-6 7-6(3) 6-4 7-6(4) while Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem also advanced after overcoming Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4.
1718 NADAL BEATS CARRENO BUSTA IN ALL-SPANISH AFFAIR
World number one Rafa Nadal continued his quest for a 20th Grand Slam title by gliding past 27th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-2 6-4, extending his winning streak against Spanish opposition to 18 matches stretching back to 2016.
Earlier, 10th seed Gael Monfils overcame Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis 7-6(2) 6-4 6-3 to reach the last 16 at Melbourne for the first time since 2017.
Fourth seed Simona Halep, the 2018 runner-up, produced a solid performance to overcome Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-1 6-4 in their first meeting and move into the second week.
Unseeded Polish teenager Iga Swiatek knocked out 19th seed Donna Vekic 7-5 6-3 to reach the fourth round and match her best performance at a Grand Slam having reached the last 16 at Roland Garros last year.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit thrashed Swiss sixth seed Belinda Bencic 6-0 6-1, as the seeds continue to tumble. Kontaveit, who won the first nine games before Bencic got on the board, took just 49 minutes to advance.
Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stunned Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6(4) 7-6(3) in an encounter between two former Australian Open junior champions. The 30th seed takes on Angelique Kerber in the next round.
German Angelique Kerber, seeded 17th, defeated Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 to improve her head-to-head record against the Italian to 5-0.
Giorgi struck an impressive 49 winners to Kerber’s 15 but the 28-year-old was undone by 65 unforced errors.
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury, Shrivathsa Sridhar and Hardik Vyas; Editing by Peter Rutherford, Sam Holmes and Clare Fallon