Melbourne: Rafael Nadal returned to the Grand Slam big-time by fending off Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a tense clash on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Former champion Nadal, who had not reached the last eight in a major since the 2015 French Open, celebrated wildly after closing out the two-hour 56-minute clash at a packed Rod Laver Arena.
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It was not the most convincing of wins for the 30-year-old Spaniard, who was rattled when Monfils rallied in the fourth set, but the 14-time Grand Slam champion was clinical when it counted to keep his pursuit of a 15th major title alive.
Nadal will meet third seed Milos Raonic for a place in the semifinals.
Third seed Raonic came safely through a potentially tricky match against Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the third straight year.
The Canadian, the highest surviving seed after the early departures of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, rarely hit his usual heights in the two hour, 52 minute contest on Hisense Arena.
The 26-year-old produced his best tennis when it mattered, though, coming back from 5-1 down in the tiebreaker to win the first set and finally got some breathing space by saving break points and breaking the world No. 13 to win the third set.
Agut required treatment on his left leg before Raonic raced away with the fourth set and sealed the victory with a crunching forehand winner down the line.