MELBOURNE. — Rafa Nadal threw a blanket over the fire of Fabio Fognini to cruise into the quarterfinal of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win on Monday.
Facing the man who dumped him from the 2015 US Open, the second seed Nadal held steady against the fierce hitting of the flamboyant Italian and counter-punched brilliantly to avoid a longer scrap at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena.
The score suggested otherwise, but it was a quality two-hour 16-minute workout for Nadal, who had to rally from 4-2 down in the second set to put the match on his terms.
From there, the momentum was all the Spaniard’s as Nadal roared through the final set to fix up a clash with either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Matteo Berrettini.
Jessica Pegula continued her dream run with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarterfinal against Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets.
Pegula struggled badly in the second set at Rod Laver Arena but regrouped in the decider, breaking former Wimbledon and US Open semifinalist Svitolina in the fourth game before locking down her first win over a top 10 opponent.