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Nadal Beats Monfils; Nishikori Next

Melbourne, Australia

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal was ruthless against Gael Monfils.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal hailed his best match of the year so far as he defeated Gael Monfils for the second time this season. Nadal beat the Frenchman 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open fourth round. The Spaniard had also beaten Monfils two weeks ago in the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.

Monfils showed flashes of brilliance, but could not match Nadal consistently in the two-hour, four-minute contest. Nadal saved all six break points he faced and converted six of his 12 opportunities. The left-hander benefitted from 57 unforced errors from Monfils, while limiting his own error count to 18.

"Tonight I think I played a great match," said Nadal. "I'm very happy with the way that I played against a very tough opponent like Gaël. So that makes the level that I played tonight better because it was against a tough opponent. That's it. Just one very good day. That makes me feel confident, but I am in the fourth round. That's all."

Watch Nishikori Match Highlights

The 27-year-old Nadal advances to a fourth-round clash with Japan’s Kei Nishikori, whom he leads 5-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, only losing one set. "He's obviously playing really well, especially here," said Nishikori. "I haven't beaten him yet, so hopefully I can play good against him. But I'm playing well. Really confident and my body is good. Everything is working well. If I can play my best tennis, I think I have some chance to win."

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"Kei is a great player," said Nadal. "He's able to play very aggressive, make very easy the very difficult things. He's very quick on the movements. Will be a very tough opponent for me. I think he had a very good victory today. He's playing great. Will be a tough one. I need to keep playing the way that I played tonight."

Nadal is looking to win the Australian Open crown for the second time, following victory in 2009 (d. Federer), which would make him the first man in the Open Era to win all of the Grand Slam championships twice.

Nishikori won 17 of the last 18 games to beat American Donald Young 7-5, 6-1, 6-0. The Japanese No. 1 had trailed 2-5 in the first set before taking control of the match to prevail in one hour and 47 minutes.

Watch Nishikori Interview

The 24-year-old Nishikori reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Melbourne Park two years ago, losing to Andy Murray. The right-hander is working this year with American coach Michael Chang.

"He's giving me a lot of good advice," said Nishikori. "He knows a lot of players. He gives me good tips for the tactics and stuff. I think we've been working, doing well. He's giving me confidence, too. So I think it's going well."

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