Rafael Nadal is looking to extend his superiority over Tomas Berdych while Andy Murray plans to break local hearts again against exciting teenager Nick Krygios in Tuesday’s Australian Open men’s quarter-finals.
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, squeezed through in five sets over American qualifier Tim Smyczek battling cramps and dizziness in the second round, but looked close to his best in ousting Kevin Anderson on Sunday to reach the last eight.
The Spanish world number three has an imposing 18-3 record over seventh seeded Czech Berdych as he chases his second Australian Open crown after beating Roger Federer in the 2009 final.
Berdych, under new coach Dani Vallverdu, is treating it as a fresh slate after serving his way into the last eight without dropping a set.
He says he not Rafa’s bunny.
“Every slam is different. Every opponent, even if is the same one, then the match is different,” said Berdych, a semi-finalist last year.
“So, no. It’s going to start from 0-0. That’s how it is. No comparing with the past. Just trying to be in this time and looking forward to it.
“There is no question that he’s one of the best of our sport, in all our eras of sport. But I’m just ready for it.”
Nadal is respectful of his opponent even though he has won their last 17 matches and taken 37 of the last 40 sets.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it’s a different story this time. Different moment for me, different moment for him,” he said.
“He’s a great player. I have had success against him, but I have had chances to lose against him.”
Nadal highlighted his four-set win over Berdych in the semi-finals of the 2012 Australian Open when he prevailed in four sets.
“I remember 2012, I had a very, very tough match against him here. It was close to be two sets to love down. He’s a player that is top level,” Nadal said.
– Home town favourite –
Murray, a two-time Grand Slam champion but luckless in Melbourne in three losing finals, will have the crowd against him when he takes on mercurial 19-year-old Kyrgios in Tuesday’s other men’s quarter-final.
The Scot holds a 10-0 winning record over Australian players and is poised to go deeper into the tournament after fighting back to oust Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov on four sets on Sunday.
“I’m not planning on trying to break anybody’s hearts. This is tennis. This is sport. All I’m trying to do is beat the guy on the other side of the net,” Murray said of his intriguing match-up with Krygios.
“Obviously, the crowd will be right behind him. Understandably so. They’re probably going to watch him play a lot of matches like this over the next 10, 15 years.
“That’s just something that I’ll have to deal with in my way. I’ve played a lot of matches. I’ve played in French Open against French players where the crowd can be very difficult.
“I’ve experienced it before, so hopefully I’ll deal with it well.”
Kyrgios lit up the Australian Open with his dramatic five-set fourth round win over Italian Andreas Seppi, who knocked out Roger Federer in a major boilover in the previous round.
Confidence is in no short supply with Kyrgios, who is playing in his second Grand Slam quarter-final after beating Nadal and Richard Gasquet before he went out to Milos Raonic at last year’s Wimbledon.
“I definitely believe that I can do it,” he said of his chances of becoming the first Australian to win his home Grand Slam since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
“I think Andy’s one of the greatest athletes on the tour. He’s going to make me play a lot of balls,” Kyrgios said.