Thursday, 11 February 2021 16:27

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit:ATP.

Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal will meet Britain's Cameron Norrie in the Australian Open third round after both won their matches on Thursday.

Nadal's bid for an outright men's record 21st Grand Slam continued with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win over American qualifier Michael Mmoh on Rod Laver Arena.

British number three Norrie eventually beat Russia's Roman Safiullin to reach the last 32 for the first time.

After a long rain delay, Norrie clinched a 3-6 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7-3) win.

Norrie looked tight as he failed to serve out a landmark victory at 6-5, but regained his composure to win a tense fourth-set tie-break and tee up a first career-meeting with Nadal.

The Briton roared in celebration after landing a first serve which Safiullin could only return into the net on the first of his three match points.

When told Nadal had also clinched victory a few minutes earlier, Norrie replied: "Sweet. For someone like me, I don't think about the draw but I saw yesterday he was next to me.

"I've never played him before so it will be a great match, a great experience. I can't wait to show him what I've got."

Norrie came through after three hours and 31 minutes on court, but almost six hours after he first started playing Russian qualifier Safiullin on the outside court eight.

The pair were tied at 1-1 in the fourth set when rain forced them off for almost an hour and a half.

With the weather failing to improve, it looked like they may have to return on Friday to complete their match.

However, good fortune came their way in the shape of American Jessica Pegula thrashing Australian wildcard Sam Stosur 6-0 6-1 in just 50 minutes, allowing them to resume on Margaret Court Arena after that match.

On Melbourne Park's second show court, Norrie started quickly with the backing of a boisterous crowd which had stayed behind to watch the bonus action.

The world number 69 pushed for another break of serve in their first game back, but was unable to convert any of three opportunities before Safiullin closed out a much-needed hold.

More pressure came from the Briton at 5-5 and, after making several unforced errors as five more break points disappeared, benefitted from Safiullin clipping the net to secure a 6-5 advantage.

He was not able to serve out victory, but regained focus to dominate the tie-break.

"I used the crowd to my advantage, you were great," he told them afterwards.

"Playing on court eight and then coming inside to Margaret Court Arena, it was definitely a different match after that.

"We both raised our level and I'm happy to come through."

Meanwhile South African tennis star Lloyd Harris defeated Australian Alexei Popyrin in a three-hour epic on Thursday to reach the Australian Open third round, his first ever Grand Slam round of 32 appearance.

The 23-year-old Harris triumphed 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 and will face unseeded American, Mackenzie McDonald for a place in the last 16. McDonald edged out 22nd seed and world number 25 Borna Coric of Croatia in four sets.

It was one marathon too many for Harris, who had needed four sets and two hours and a half hour to down Danish world number 188 Mikael Torpegaard to reach the second round on Tuesday.

Harris started strong, taking the opening set 6-2 but Popyrin fought back to win the second. The Capetonian however found his momentum to claim the third set.

After falling a set behind, Popyrin twice managed to square the match to push it into a decider, with the fourth set alone taking a full hour.

The match was in the balance during the sixth game of the decider as the two players went back and forth on deuce for over ten minutes. Harris eventually forged ahead 4-2 with a huge forehand winner to break Popyrin's serve and set up the win.

Harris, who racked up 25 aces for the match to Popyrin's 21, served to love the next game, yet the 113-ranked Aussie refused to give in, taking the next game with an ace.

Harris had other ideas though and finished the job, serving to love and ending Popyrin's hopes of reaching the Australian Open third round for the third time.

The world number 91 Harris will be in action again this afternoon in the first round of the doubles event alongside his Austrian partner Julian Knowle. The pair will face Australian duo of Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios.