Humid day of great escapes in Melbourne


An ailing Rafael Nadal dug deep into his vast reservoir of grit to stave off US qualifier Tim Smyczek and stagger into the third round of the Australian Open yesterday, a day of great escapes.

Gushing sweat and stooping woozily between points, the sickly Spaniard dragged his cramping body into a fifth set under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, breaking the 112th-ranked American in the 11th game before closing out a 6-2 3-6 6-7(2) 6-3 7-5 win in four gruelling hours and 12 minutes.

Nadal slumped to his knees on the blue hard court having narrowly averted a repeat of his Melbourne Park jinx.

“It was a very tough night for me [and] . . . a tough period of seven months without competition,” Nadal said.

– Reuters

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