Rafael Nadal overcomes Kei Nishikori for quarterfinal berth

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Melbourne, Australia (4E Sports) – Top seed and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal overcame a tough challenge from Kei Nishikori en route to a 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(3) win, earning him a spot in the quarterfinal round of the Australian Open Monday.

The 17th-ranked Nishikori, who already has one victory over a World No. 1 under his belt, broke Nadal four times and forced the top seed to rally from down in both the second and third sets.

Nadal clinched the second set with two late breaks, but then lost two straight service games in the third set to go from a 3-1 lead to a 4-5 deficit. He prevented Nishikori from serving out the set, and once again prevailed in a tie-break to claim victory after three hours and 17 minutes.

Nadal is now tied with South African Wayne Ferreira in seventh place for number of victories at the Australian Open with 39.

In his seventh quarterfinal at the Australian Open, Nadal will face 22-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the youngest quarter-finalist at in Melbourne since Nishikori in 2012.

Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian man to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final after defeating Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The 22nd-seeded Dimitrov clinched the victory after two hours and 24 minutes with his fourth break of serve. Bautista Agut had also created five break point opportunities, but only capitalized once.

Roger Federer set a quarterfinal showdown with Andy Murray at the Australian Open after a 6-3, 7-5 6-4 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Melbourne Park.

Federer hit 21 winners in the second set alone, closing it out with an ace to improve to 10-4 in career meetings with Tsonga.

Federer is now one win away from his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal, but standing in his way is fourth seed Murray, who leads their head-to-head clash, 11-9.

Murray advanced to his fifth straight quarter-final at the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 defeat of Frenchman Stephane Robert.

On the women’s side, second seed Victoria Azarenka advanced to the quarterfinal with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Sloane Stephens.

Azarenka, who emerged as title favorite after the exit of top seed Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, will clash with Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Garbiñe Muguruza,

6-1, 6-3.

Simona Halep defeated No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 2-6, 6-0, to become the first Romanian to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in five years since Sorana Cirstea at the French Open in 2009.

Awaiting Halep in the next round is No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.

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