Rafael Nadal: ‘I continue to have goals that…’

Rafael Nadal continued his perfect start to the season with a 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 win over Karen Khachanov in the third round of the Australian Open. It took Rafa two hours and 50 minutes to beat Karen, playing well in the sets he won to advance to the round of 16 for the 15th time in Melbourne.

Khachanov took the third set in style before Nadal went all-in in the fourth to defeat his opponent for the eighth time in as many meetings. Rafa lost 19 points after the initial blow and was broken once of the five chances he offered Karen.

The Spaniard grabbed 40% of the return points and converted them into five breaks from 15 chances. The world number 5 hit 39 winners and 30 unforced errors, losing a bit of ground in the third set and coming back stronger in the fourth to emerge on top.

Khachanov kept in touch with Nadal in the longer exchanges. Rafa carved out the victory for him in the shorter and medium rallies, where he had a clear advantage. Nadal held the lead in the first game of the match with a service winner and a backhand cross winner in the second game to earn an early break.

The Spaniard kept zero again in the third game to confirm the lead and open a 3-0 lead. In the fifth game, he held serve for the third time in a row with a game-winning volley for 4-1 in 14 minutes. With serve at 5-3, Nadal hit an unreturned serve to hold for 15 and made it 6-3 in 28 minutes.

The opening game of the second set offered seven deuces, and Rafa took advantage of the fourth break opportunity with a deep return. Nadal faced a break point in the fourth game from 40-15 after an extensive rally on Khachanov’s count.

Rafa saved it with a service winner and hit a game-winning volley to bring the game home and open a 3-1 gap.

Latest update on Rafa Nadal

Rafael Nadal, on Friday, bid an emotional farewell to Mexico City — the place where he won his first ATP 500 title way back in February 2005.

“It will most likely be the last time I play in Mexico, Acapulco 2023 is not on my calendar and the 2024 season seems far away. Now is the time to enjoy this moment to the fullest and play in an emblematic setting, with many people and in a country where I have always felt loved,” he said.

“It is an unforgettable feeling to live in such an environament in Mexico, I can only say thank you for the unconditional support, it is a country that has treated me like another Mexican. It’s hard for me to say goodbye to you,” he added.

“For me the main thing right now is to be able to get to the important tournaments in full physical condition. I continue to enjoy day-by-day and I continue to have goals that excite me at a professional level. I’m going to try to achieve them until my body or mind says enough. At the moment, that hasn’t happened so I want to continue,” he said.

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