Rafael Nadal defeated Kei Nishikori 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(3) to advance to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. His opponent will be Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who is through to his first quarterfinal at a grand slam ever.
The first set started with an early lead for Rafa, with a break in the first game and a hold. Nishikori broke back to get back on serve. A grueling game at 2-3 almost gave Nishikori a second break; however, Rafa consolidated to even it out. An intense exchange resulted in a tie breaker, which Rafa won 7-6(3). The second set started even, and seemed ominous when Rafa had a trainer come out on court for his blistered hand. Later in the set, Rafa took a tumble and roll across the court, the only casualty being his shoelaces, much to everyone’s relief. Despite being a break down at one point, Rafa bulldozed back into the set with a break and took it at 7-5. The third set was a roller coaster, going in Rafa’s favor until mid-set. A time violation, several BPs and a set point saved, and a visibly angry Rafa made for a highly memorable R4 at this year’s Australian Open.
Rafa is just three wins away from a monumental second Australian Open title, which will complete his second career grand slam. All the best, Rafa! This is your slam to win! Vamos!