MELBOURNE (AFP) - World No. 1 Rafael Nadal weathered a fierce storm from gutsy showman Nick Kyrgios on Monday (Jan 27) to set up an Australian Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem and keep alive his quest for a 20th Grand Slam title.
The Spanish top seed came through a riveting clash on Rod Laver Arena 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) to end the gallant hopes of the basketball-mad Australian, who came on court wearing an LA Lakers shirt in honour of Kobe Bryant.
He will now face fifth seed Thiem after the Austrian swept past Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4..
"What can I say about Nick? When he is playing like today with this positive attitude he gives a lot of positive things to our sport," said Nadal, the 2009 champion who is looking to match Roger Federer's record 20 Slam crowns.
"He's one of the highest talents we have on our tour and I like the Nick Kyrgios during the whole of this tournament." "I just feel happy that I won one more match tonight, an important one," he added.
Earlier, former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka turned back the clock in a vintage performance to stun world No. 4 Daniil Medvedev.
The popular Swiss star, who beat Nadal in the 2014 decider, dug deep to come from behind in five intense sets and win 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.
It set up a last-eight clash with German seventh seed Alexander Zverev, who ended the hot streak of his close friend Andrey Rublev of Russia with a clinical 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win in just 1hr 37mins. Rublev had came into the match on a 15-match winning run including titles in Doha and Adelaide earlier this month.
Wawrinka, who is into his 18th Grand Slam quarter-final, behind only Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray among active players, said: "Another amazing match. The level was super-high and atmosphere is so special here in Australia.
"It's amazing to still be playing and at that level. I'm really happy with what I'm doing on the court."
Three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka has not won a title since pocketing the 16th of his career on the Geneva clay in 2017, with two bouts of surgery on his left knee pushing him to the brink of retirement.
A lengthy absence meant his world ranking plunged, but he has climbed back to world No. 15 after runs last year to the last eight at Roland Garros and the US Open.
Beating Medvedev brought up another milestone in Wawrinka's illustrious career - it was his 300th Tour-level win.