Australian Open: Rafael Nadal reaches last 16 after beating Karen Khachanov

Rafael Nadal dropped his first set of the Australian Open but recovered to defeat Karen Khachanov and reach the fourth round in Melbourne for a 15th time.

Nadal went into the match boasting a 7-0 record against Russian Khachanov and having lost just one set.

The Spaniard, who has looked sharp despite his lengthy absence with a foot problem last season, eased through the first two sets under the lights on Rod Laver Arena but Khachanov threatened to turn the match on its head when he took the third.

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Rafael Nadal roars after coming from a set down to win his Australian Open third-round tie

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However, Nadal moved ahead again early in the fourth, celebrating exuberantly when he broke serve, and went on to claim a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory.

The sixth seed was very happy with his performance, saying: ‘It’s a very special week for me coming back from where I’m coming. Every single time I’m able to play here is a very special thing.

‘Tonight I played against a great player and a good friend on tour. It has been without a doubt my best match since I came back. Nights like today mean everything. It’s a lot of energy in my pocket to keep fighting every single day.’

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