Spain’s Rafael Nadal booked his place in the Australian Open quarterfinals by securing a four set victory over France’s Gael Monfils at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
The 30-year-old, winner of the Grand Slam back in 2009, has suffered from injuries in recent years to drop down the rankings.
He showed no ill effects of a grueling five set match against German teenager Alexander Zverev, as Nadal quickly exerted his dominance over the unpredictable Monfils.
A comfortable victory appeared on the cards for the ninth seed as he claimed the opening two sets 6-3, 6-3, but Monfils steadily improved and triumphed 6-4 in the third.
An early break in the fourth set raised French hopes of a comeback, but with a fifth set looming, Nadal secured two breaks of his rivals’ serve to seal a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win.
“Gael is a special player, he’s able to play unbelievable shots,” said Nadal after quelling the comeback.
“He’s one of the more charismatic players on the tour.
“A pleasure to see him in the top of the rankings, it is great for our sport.”
Nadal is now due to face the challenge of Canada’s Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals after he secured a 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
Belgium’s David Goffin also advanced to the last eight after winning 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 against Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
He will face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who ended the challenge of Novak Djokovic’s conqueror Denis Istomin, beating the Uzbekistan player 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-1.
In the women’s singles, the United States’ Serena Williams earned a 7-5, 6-4 win over the Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova.
The six-time winner overcame a difficult start, in which she was broken three times in the opening set, to battle through to victory.
She will meet Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals, the Briton having cruised to a 6-1, 6-4 win against Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.
Czech Republic’s Karolína Plíšková beat home favourite Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3 to set up a tie with Mirjana Lučić-Baroni.
The Croatian player reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final for 18-years by beating American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2.
Her last appearance in the last eight of a major came at Wimbledon in 1999.
Lučić-Baroni eventually reached the semi-final of that tournament before being beaten by Germany’s Steffi Graf.
By Michael Pavitt
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.