World no. 1 and a former Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal secured his 12th quarter-final in Melbourne, beating Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and 38 minutes! Nadal advanced to his 41st Major quarter-final as only the fourth player after Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, working hard to secure the place in the last eight against a home favorite.
The Aussie hit 25 aces, but that wasn't enough to keep him safe, with the Spaniard producing more efficient numbers on the first and especially the second serve to face only three break points in the entire clash, suffering two breaks that almost cost him dearly.
On the other hand, Rafa stole Nick's serve twice from nine opportunities, prevailing in the crucial moments to remain on the title course. Nadal had 64 winners and 27 unforced errors, struggling to break Nick's rhythm after the opener but still finding the way to grab the triumph in four sets and avoid spending more time on the court.
Hitting 14 winners and six unforced errors, Nadal did everything right on the court in the opener, serving well and earning one break for 6-3. Facing deuce in the very first game, Rafa held with a forehand winner and a forced error from Kyrgios, avoiding an early setback and putting his name on the scoreboard before Nick leveled the score with an ace down the T line.
A forehand winner sent Rafa 2-1 ahead and he broke Kyrgios in the next game from 40-15 down to grab the crucial advantage. Mixing his shots nicely, the Spaniard held at 30 with a service winner to cement the break and move further ahead before the Aussie claimed the sixth game to stay within one break deficit.
With a great rhythm on serve, Rafa held at love in the seventh game and served for the set at 5-3. Landing one powerful serve after another, Nadal produced an excellent hold at love to clinch the opener 6-3 in 36 minutes, making a strong start and hoping for more in the rest of the clash.
Rafael Nadal defeated Nick Kyrgios to reach the Australian Open quarter-final.
Reducing the number of errors and imposing his strokes for the first time, Nick survived a challenging second set's opening game and never looked back, stealing Nadal's serve at 2-1 and bringing it home with marvelous serving.
Facing an ultimate challenge in the first game, Nick repelled three break chances, holding after four deuces and giving himself a massive boost for the rest of the set. Not thinking about those opportunities he wasted, Rafa landed an ace down the T line to level the score at 1-1, hoping for more chances on the return in the next game.
That didn't happen, as Kyrgios found the way to stay in the longer rallies with a mighty opponent, holding at 15 with a beautiful lob winner and delivering his first break of serve a few minutes later thanks to a forehand down the line winner that Nadal failed to catch.
Serving at 3-1, Nick brought the game home at love when Nadal's backhand landed long, confirming the advantage and looking much better on the court than just 15 minutes ago. Rafa held at love in the sixth game with a perfect forehand down the line to reduce the deficit, but there was nothing he could do on the return, allowing Nick to grab the set with two aces in game nine.
The third set was the encounter's best part, with 35 winners overall and high tennis from start to finish. Nick repelled a break chance at 3-4 with a perfect drop shot, holding with two service winners and surviving two deuces in the 12th game to reach a tie break.
Rafa earned an instant mini-break for a 2-0 lead, forging a 4-1 advantage with a forehand winner before Kyrgios pulled the mini-break back in the ninth point after Nadal's forehand error. A double fault from Nick in the worst possible moment sent Nadal 6-5 up, with another double fault coming from the racquet of world no.
1 for more drama and excitement. A volley winner kept Nadal 7-6 in front, and the set was in his hands when Kyrgios netted a forehand in the 14th point. Rafa delivered one comfortable hold after another in set number four, earning a break at love in game three that pushed him closer to the finish line.
Serving at 5-4, Nadal sought the 13th consecutive comfortable hold, which didn't happen, with Kyrgios breaking back to level the score at 5-5 and prolong his chances. Facing two break points in the 11th game, Nick stayed calm to repel both and bring the game home for a complete turnaround.
Starting all over, Rafa hit four winners in the next game to set the second straight tie break and moved 5-3 in front following the Aussie's loose drop shot. Serving at 6-4, the Spaniard forced a mistake from his opponent to seal the deal and reach the 12th Australian Open quarter-final.