MELBOURNE: Rafa Nadal faces a tricky test in his quest for a men's record 21st Grand Slam title when he takes on Denis Shapovalov in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday (Jan 25), but the Spaniard is relishing another battle with his fellow left-hander.
World number one Ash Barty steps up her bid to emulate Chris O'Neil and give Australia a first home women's singles champion at Melbourne Park since 1978. Standing in her way is American 21st seed Jessica Pegula, who has never reached the semi-finals.
Nadal returned to action on the ATP Tour for the first time since Aug 5 earlier this month and has slowly moved into top gear at the first major of the year, reaching the last eight after a gritty performance against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
The sixth seed expects another challenging encounter against Canadian Shapovalov, who beat him as a teenager in their first meeting on the hard courts at Montreal in 2017, although the 35-year-old has since improved the head-to-head record to 3-1.
"It's going to be a tough one for me ... It's a match to try my best, to play at my highest level if I want to have chances to go through," Nadal told reporters. "Yeah, I'm excited about it. I didn't expect to be where I am weeks ago."
Resurgent American Madison Keys, a former US Open runner-up, meets Czech fourth seed and French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova in an intriguing contest. Big-serving Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini takes on Frenchman Gael Monfils.