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Nadal eased past Florian Mayer and Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets in the first two rounds, before getting through a titanic four-hour five-set battle against German rising star Alex Zverev. The Spaniard then took out French sixth seed Gael Monfils in the fourth round in four sets.
Raonic got past tricky opponents Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller in the opening two rounds without dropping a set, before beating both 25th seed Gilles Simon and 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets.
The Spaniard reached his first grand slam quarter final in more than 18 months with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over the sixth-seeded Frenchman and plays third seed Milos Raonic next.
Nadal’s resurgence, coupled with Federer’s smooth progress, means there is the tantalising prospect of the first major final between the two great rivals since 2011.
Reflecting on the win, which took just under three hours, Nadal said: “For me, it means a lot because I really start the season playing quarter-finals in a grand slam again, especially on a hard court (and) after a couple of years without being in this round is great news.
“When you lost the third (set), you are down in the fourth, you are not under control, no. That’s the real thing.”
Nadal had looked to be cruising to a straight-sets victory at a packed Rod Laver Arena, but he tightened up in the third set to allow his mercurial opponent back into the match.
“I feel a little bit tired. But probably tomorrow [Tuesday] a bit better and hopefully after tomorrow perfect,” Nadal said in his on-court interview following the win.