Fourteen-time major winner Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open but he has had to do it the hard way, needing five sets to overcome rising German superstar Alexander Zverev.
The Spaniard fought back to down one of the hottest prospects in the game, 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 in four hours and six minutes of high-quality tennis.
Zverev, 19, had recovered a break early in the final set before requiring treatment for cramp.
It was Nadal’s 18th win in 26 five-set matches and set him up for a crack at sixth-seed Gael Monfils after the French showman beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.
“He is the future of our sport and the present too. It was a tough match for me, I was not playing my best and not feeling well because I was losing too much court.
“After losing the tie-break, I said, ‘I need to fight for every point. Forget the result’. And that’s what I did.”