Former Melbourne champion into quarters after four-set triumph over Gael Monfils.
Rafael Nadal has won through to his ninth Australian Open quarterfinal, the 2009 Melbourne Park champion defeating sixth seed Gael Monfils 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, seeded ninth on his comeback to tennis after battling injury for much of 2016, defeated the Frenchman for the fifth straight time, Monfils squandering the chance to advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second year in succession.
“Gael is a special player. He’s able to play unbelievable shots,” Nadal said.
“He’s one of the more charismatic players on the tour. A pleasure to see him in the top of the rankings. Great for our sport.
“I have chances to have break in the third … Didn’t play my best game at 4-4. You are (then) under problems against a player like him.
“(In the fourth set) I think against Gael had a few mistakes in a row and played a good backhand on the break point. That game was the world. (I told myself) if I come back I think I have a few chances.
“Very happy being in the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam after a couple of years without being there, is very special for me and especially here in Australia, where it feels a little like home, crowd is always supporting me.”
Nadal will meet third seed Milos Raonic in the final eight. Earlier on Monday night, the big-serving Canadian pushed past Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets.
“(Against Raonic I have to) play very very well, that’s the only way, no?,” Nadal said.
“He beat me a couple of weeks ago in Brisbane. It was a tough game. He’s a top player with an amazing serve, so I need to be focused with my serve and wait for opportunities on my return.”