Rafael Nadal has admitted he was “a little bit lucky” at times during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Italy’s Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open.

“Every match, when you go on court, in a the round of 16 against a great player like Fabio, you’ve got to worry every moment,” Nadal said.

“But at the same time you can’t expect to go on court and not have problems during the match, facing these kinds of players.

Rafa Nadal asked for a fan to be bought out during his match against Fabio Fognini. Photo: Tennis Australia/ FIONA HAMILTON

“In the second set I don’t think I played a good game when he break me.

“I was lucky to have the break back immediately and then I saved 0-40 – that was the key.

“So building this couple of games, I was a little bit lucky to be able to have a score 5-4 for me on serving.

“I think in the beginning of second set from the beginning, I think I was better than him, then from 3-2 to 5, especially to 4-4, he was much better than me.

“I was able to hold the score and that was probably one of the biggest parts.”

Fabio Fognini returns againt Rafa Nadal on Rod Laver Arena. Photo: Tennis Australia/ NATASHA MORELLO

Fognini, who had earlier beaten Alex de Minaur, found Nadal a much tougher opponent in a match that lasted two hours and 16 minutes.

The Italian actually proved more winners than Nadal, 32 to 24 – but could not make it count when it mattered as the world No.2 moved easily around d the court, not showing any signs of his previous back injury.

Nadal will face the winner of the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini for a place in the semi-finals.