• Australian Open, Day Seven

Defending champion Nadal sees off Croatian

ESPN staff
January 24, 2010
Rafael Nadal recovered after losing the second set © Getty Images
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Day seven in pictures

Rafael Nadal beat Ivo Karlovic 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-4 to book a quarter-final with Andy Murray at the Australian Open. The defending champion showed trademark resilience to bounce back after losing the second set to the 30-year-old Croatian.

Nadal, the second seed, consistently repelled the threat of Karlovic's fearsome serve - which produced 27 aces - as it rained down on him from his opponent's 6ft 10in frame. Early breaks in the third and fourth sets made for a comfortable passage to victory for the Spaniard, who acknowledged afterwards that defeating Murray - who overcame John Isner - will be a more onerous task. The world No.4 is yet to drop a set in the championship.

"Being in the quarter-final gives me a lot of confidence but I've got a really difficult match against Andy," Nadal said. "He's one of the more talented players on the tour. He can play aggressive, play offensive.

"I will try to play aggressive and play behind the line. If I don't do that then I will have a flight home." Nadal has won seven of his nine encounters against the Brit, including 2007's fourth round in Australia.

Elsewhere, Juan Martin del Potro was knocked out by Marin Cilic after losing 7-5 4-6 5-7 7-5 3-6 to the Croatian. The fourth seed, who won 2009's US Open, was a long way short of his optimum performance level and it is the 14th seed who progresses in his place. Cilic, 21, next faces Andy Roddick, who beat Fernando Gonzalez 6-3 3-6 4-6 7-5 6-2 - a victory that the American claimed was fortuitous.

"I was lucky to get out of that. I took Fernando's best stuff for the majority of four sets," he said. "When Fernando gets hot, a lot of the match is out of your control. I was playing really good tennis in the second and third sets. I think what really helped me was being able to serve through. I got a little lucky tonight - and sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."

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