Rafael Nadal news: The Spaniard reaches Aus Open quarters but won’t play Alexander Zverev

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is through to the Australian Open quarter-finals – but he had to work for it by playing the longest tie-break of his career.

Nadal beat French veteran Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (14), 6-2, 6-2 but the first-set tie-break was where the action really was as it lasted nearly half an hour.

The Frenchman had four set points but Nadal took it 16-14 on his seventh chance due to a net cord and wild volley from Mannarino – then the world No 5 went on to secure a place in the next round.

“The first set has been very, very emotional, anything could happen there,” the 35-year-old explained after his win.

“I was a little bit lucky at the end, everybody knows how mental is this game.

“After that crazy first set was so important that break at the start of the second – I’m very happy that I survived that first set without a doubt.”

Things are looking hopeful for Nadal in his Australian Open campaign, especially as there’s no fear he’ll be facing world No 1 Novak Djokovic as he was removed from the competition, but he will face Denis Shapovalov who has made it to his first quarter-final in Melbourne after a surprise win against Alexander Zverev.

Denis Shapovalov celebrates his win over Alexander Zverev
Denis Shapovalov celebrates his win over Alexander Zverev (Hamish Blair/AP)

Both have met on four occasions before, with Shapovalov even pulling off an upset when he was just an 18-year-old by beating Nadal on home turf in Canada.

“After the match I said he is going to be a potential multi-grand slam winner,” the 20 time Grand Slam winner said.

“And I still think that, if he’s able to keep improving, he will be a multi-grand slam winner.

“He has a lot of amazing things in his game, and his results say that, when he’s playing well, it’s very difficult to stop him.”

Alexander Zverev smashes his racket in frustration
Alexander Zverev smashes his racket in frustration (Tertius Pickard/AP)

After his defeat 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to Shapovalov, a frustrated Zverev smashed his racket on the court and his ambitions of reaching the No 1 spot after his performances in Melbourne drifted away.

Nadal and Shapovalov will play in their quarter-final match on Tuesday for a place in the semi-finals.