Rejuvenated Rafa Nadal is back in a grand slam quarter-final

‘After a couple of years without being in this round is great news. An important victory’

Rafael Nadal is back in a grand slam quarter-final for the first time in two years after the Spaniard battled past Gael Monfils at the Australian Open.

Nadal had not made it to the last eight of a major tournament since the French Open in 2015 but he continued his recent resurgence on Rod Laver Arena by beating Monfils 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4.

“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,” Nadal told reporters, still bathed in sweat after his work on a muggy evening.

“Very happy with an important victory against a very good opponent.

“When you lost the third (set), you are down 4-2 in the fourth, you are not under control, no. That’s the real thing.”

The world number nine has looked rejuvenated in Melbourne and with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray gone, he stands as a genuine contender to seal a 15th grand-slam triumph.

To do so, he will now have to overcome third seed Milos Raonic, the big-serving Canadian who had earlier beaten Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 6-4 6-1.

The bottom half's other quarter-final will pitch Belgium's David Goffin against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

Goffin beat Dominic Thiem 5-7 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 6-2 while Dimitrov knocked out Djokovic's conqueror Denis Istomin 2-6 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 6-1.