Australian Open 2014: Rafael Nadal made to work for quarter-final berth in straight-sets win over Kei Nishikori

World Number One progressed 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-3) over the Japanese to move into the last eight

Rafael Nadal progressed through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a straight sets victory over Kei Nishikori, but it was a far from comfortable outing for the world number one.

Nadal had won all five of his previous meetings against Nishikori and, while he made it six out of six on Monday, he was pushed hard by his Japanese opponent before sealing a 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 7-6 (7/3) win at Rod Laver Arena.

The 13-time grand slam winner had not been broken previously in the tournament but dropped four of his service games before finally ending the impressive challenge of Nishikori in a match that lasted three hours and 17 minutes.

Next up for the Spaniard is Grigor Dimitrov, who became the first Bulgarian male to reach a grand slam quarter-final after beating Nadal's countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Nadal looked poised for a straightforward fourth-round outing as he broke Nishikori in the opening game following some loose shots from the world number 17.

The omens were not good for the underdog with Nadal's serve having proved infallible in his opening three matches in Melbourne, but the top seed was finally broken after four uncharacteristic errors in the fourth game.

Suddenly it was the 16th seed who was starting to look the more formidable and Nadal only just managed to hold in his next service game.

The set went with serve to a tiebreak, where Nadal showed his superior experience to emerge a 7/3 winner.

Nadal did not have it any easier in the second set either, and he was broken again in the fifth game after putting an overhead smash wide with the whole court to aim for.

That put Nishikori 3-2 in front but Nadal broke back in the eighth, taking the game with a crunching forehand down the line, and the 2009 champion produced a similar shot to take the set as he broke his opponent's serve again in the 12th.

Nishikori continued to fight in the third but his challenge finally looked to be fading as Nadal took a 4-1 lead after breaking in the fourth.

However, Nishikori still posed a major threat to the 2012 runner-up and, after failing to make the most of several opportunities in previous Nadal service games, he broke back in the seventh following the Spaniard's first double-fault of the match.

Incredibly, Nishikori also broke Nadal at his next opportunity to go 5-4 ahead and have the chance to serve for the set.

He could not capitalise though, wasting a great chance for a set point, and Nadal recovered to take that game and he then made no mistake in the tie-break to seal the match.

PA

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss