Nadal survives marathon Zverev battle

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Rafael Nadal survived a huge third-round test at the Australian Open, overcoming teenager Alexander Zverev in a marathon five-setter.

Nadal, the ninth seed, edged into the last 16 at Melbourne Park with a 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

The Spaniard was pushed for four hours and five minutes by 19-year-old Zverev, in a battle between a 14-time grand slam champion and arguably the brightest talent of 'Generation Next'.

But the changing of the guard will have to wait a little longer as Nadal moved into the fourth round, where either Gael Monfils or Philipp Kohlschreiber await.

Nadal had won the only previous meeting between the pair, but had to save a match point to eke out victory at Indian Wells last year.

Zverev made a red-hot start in Melbourne and held onto his break from the opening game of the first set, secured with a drop shot after both players created extreme angles cross court.

However, Nadal dominated the second set, losing just three points on serve as he pushed back at Zverev, the German 24th seed having dictated from the baseline early.

Nadal's forehand was doing most of the damage as neither player could impose their will in the third.

A thrilling tie-break, which always looked likely to follow, went Zverev's way when he powered a cross-court backhand winner to end a 17-shot rally.

Zverev dropped serve early in the fourth, sending a forehand well long to fall 2-0 behind, and Nadal never allowed him back in as he levelled the match.

Nadal set up an early chance in the fifth, breaking serve in the opening game when Zverev sent a forehand into the net.

But, seemingly out of nowhere, Zverev broke back in the fourth game, Nadal unable to dig his way out of a 0-40 hole.

The duo had the crowd on their feet twice during the fifth game as Zverev finally started showing signs of fatigue and Nadal broke for a 3-2 lead.

Zverev fought bravely as his tiring legs were moved from side to side and the match entered its fifth hour, Nadal breaking again with a clean backhand winner to end the teenager's challenge.