Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry with a 50th meeting when they do battle in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The all-time greats have been on contrasting runs in Melbourne, where seven-time champion Djokovic will enter their clash on Thursday as favourite.

But Federer cannot be written off in the semi-final encounter most were hoping for once the draw was made.

We take a closer look at the pair ahead of the showdown.

Form and results

For the first time in his career, Federer has reached a grand slam semi-final without facing a top-40 player, but the Swiss 20-time grand slam champion has made hard work of his run. He was tested by John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, saving an incredible seven match points against the latter. Federer appeared to be battling injury during the clash against the American world number 100, but was later hopeful it was "just pain and problems" amid worries over his groin.

R1: bt Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2
R2: bt Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1
R3: bt Millman 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8)
R4: bt Fucsovics 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2
QF: bt Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3

Djokovic, meanwhile, has been relatively untroubled since a brief hiccup in the opening round against Jan-Lennard Struff. Having been particularly pleased with his serve, the Serbian star has dominated, dropping just one set. Djokovic has won 84 per cent of his first-serve points, which is behind only Ivo Karlovic and Thiago Monteiro – who played two and one matches at the tournament respectively.

R1: bt Struff 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1
R2: bt Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2
R3: bt Nishioka 6-3 6-2 6-2
R4: bt Schwartzman [14] 6-3 6-4 6-4
QF: bt Raonic [32] 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1)

Next up

Djokovic is the favourite in the 50th meeting between the all-time greats, his form and condition seemingly giving him the upper-hand against Federer. He holds a 26-23 record over the 38-year-old, but was beaten in straight sets when they met at the ATP Finals late last year. At grand slams, Djokovic holds a 10-6 record, while he has won three of their four Australian Open meetings. Djokovic is unstoppable when he gets to this stage in Melbourne – he has won the tournament every time he has reached the semi-finals.

Draw

Whoever secures a spot in the final will face Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka.

What they said

Federer: "I think conditions suit us well here. Start the year strong, probably something to do with court speed, feeling comfortable down here."

Djokovic: "Roger is Roger. You know that he's always going to play on such a high level, regardless of the surface. He loves to play these kinds of matches, big rivalries, semis, finals of grand slams."

Novak Djokovic insisted he does not feel like he is "dominating" Roger Federer despite not losing a grand slam match against the Swiss in seven and a half years.

Federer has not defeated Djokovic at a major since their Wimbledon semi-final meeting in 2012.

Despite five grand slam wins over Federer since then, four of which have arrived in finals, the Serbian does not feel like he has the upper hand ahead of their meeting in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Djokovic insisted the 38-year-old, who won their previous meeting at the 2019 ATP Finals in London, always remains a huge threat on all surfaces.

Asked if he knew the reason for his winning streak against Federer at the majors, he said: "Not particularly, to be honest. 

"Wimbledon last year, he had two match points, he was one shot away from winning that match. It's not like I've been dominating the match-ups. 

"I've had success against him in grand slams in particular. But Roger is Roger. You know that he's always going to play on such a high level, regardless of the surface. 

"I know that whenever we get a chance to play each other, we understand it takes a big effort and it's required from us to come up with the best game in order to win against each other.

"He loves to play these kind of matches, big rivalries, semis, finals of grand slams.

"I mean, he's probably going to confirm that that's probably the biggest reason why he's still competing, to be able to compete at the grand slams against the best players in the world."

Since dropping a set in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic has recorded four consecutive straight-sets victories, including Tuesday's 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) quarter-final triumph over Milos Raonic.

The run has followed his star showing at the ATP Cup, where he led his country to victory and beat Rafael Nadal in the final.

Djokovic is in a confident mood ahead of the match with Federer as he sits two wins away from a record eighth Australian Open title.

The second seed said: "I've been feeling well on the court. If I continue playing the way I was throughout the tournament here and also ATP Cup, I've been building. 

"I think as the time passes by, in every match, I have more confidence, I feel better. 

"In the end of the day, this is the court where I had the most success in my career."

Novak Djokovic was amazed to see Roger Federer save seven match points against Tennys Sandgren at the age of 38.

The Serbian, who will meet Federer on Thursday in the Australian Open semi-finals, marvelled at Federer's ability to stay alive in the competition and feels it proves his greatness.

Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in a routine quarter-final victory, while Federer's path in a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 win was something out of the ordinary.

"What he did today was really amazing," said Djokovic. "He showed me he's one of the best players of all time.

"I mean, to come back and save seven match points at his age, he's still playing such a great tennis and proving that he deserves to be up there.

"He never gives up. When it matters the most, he's focused and he plays his best tennis. Sandgren had chances. Out of those seven match points, there were five match points where they actually had rallies.

"But credit to Roger. Amazing that he managed to come back. It's not the first time he has done that in his career. That's why he is who he is."

It was pointed out to Djokovic that he had saved six match points in his career against Federer, four across two appearances at the US Open and two in their famous Wimbledon final last year.

But he insisted he could not compare whether that feat was more surprising than the Swiss star surviving seven in the same match on Tuesday.

"I don't know, I can't compare it," he said. "I hope I get to at least one match point in a few days!

"Obviously I have tremendous respect for Roger and everything he has achieved in the sport, definitely one of my two biggest rivals. He's a great fighter.

"I have been saying many times and I'll repeat it again: the matchups against Roger and Rafa [Nadal] have made me the player I am today so I am grateful I have had so many great matches against those guys.

"Hopefully things can come together for me in a positive way on Thursday and I can have a chance to win."

Novak Djokovic was fighting back the tears as he paid tribute to Kobe Bryant after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals.

NBA legend Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday, had a close relationship with the 16-time grand slam champion.

Djokovic reached the last four at Melbourne Park with a 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) triumph over Milos Raonic on Tuesday.

During his on-court interview with John McEnroe, he found it difficult to maintain his composure when he was asked about Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, whose daughter Gianna also died in the accident.

"It really caught us by surprise," Djokovic said as he wore a top that included the initials 'KB', a love heart and the basketball great's shirt numbers, eight and 24.

"He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world and I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.

"When I needed some advice and some support, he was there for me."

Djokovic had to stop speaking as he got upset when adding: "He was my mentor, my friend and it is just heartbreaking to see and hear what has happened to him and his daughter…"

A sign of the close relationship between the two sporting greats was highlighted when Djokovic had discussed Bryant at length shortly before the accident when he spoke to the media ahead of beating Diego Schwartzman in the previous round.

The Serbian had said the basketball star was a crucial inspiration when he endured a period of poor form and problems off the court in 2017 and 2018 when he was recovering from an elbow injury.

Djokovic had explained: "I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me.

"I was dropping in the rankings and then having to work my way up. He was one of the people who was really there for me.

"He was there to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I'll be back.

"I'm very grateful to him for being there for me, for being very supportive. I love Kobe – who doesn't? He's an amazing guy and one of the best basketball players and athletes of all time."

Novak Djokovic continued his dominance of Milos Raonic at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Raonic became the fourth player to suffer 10 losses to Djokovic without once beating the Serbian star after his defeat on Rod Laver Arena.

The Canadian joined Gael Monfils, Jeremy Chardy and Andreas Seppi on Djokovic's list of opponents he has well and truly dominated on the ATP Tour.

We take a look at the four's less-than-fantastic record.

 

GAEL MONFILS (0-16)

The exciting Frenchman has a game to beat most players, but clearly not Djokovic. Monfils has had his chance on every surface and fallen on every occasion. He did beat Djokovic when they met at a futures tournament in Italy in 2004 but, at ATP and grand slam level, it has been one-sided. Monfils has had his moments, with only eight of the 16 ending in straight sets, but he has never been able to get over the line, beginning at the 2005 US Open and more recently at this year's ATP Cup.

JEREMY CHARDY (0-13)

Another Frenchman, Chardy has been in an entirely one-sided match-up since 2009. Incredibly, all 13 of Djokovic's wins have come in straight sets, even when Chardy has been ranked as high as 25 at Wimbledon in 2013. Djokovic has been ranked in the top four in 12 of these matches and never had any problems against Chardy, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in 2013.

ANDREAS SEPPI (0-12)

Seppi has come close to upsetting Djokovic previously, but this is just another match-up that suits the 16-time grand slam champion. The Italian journeyman likes to sit behind the baseline, a position on the court from which few can match it with Djokovic. Since their first meeting in 2006, Djokovic has won nine of their 12 matches in straight sets and survived a gigantic scare in another. That came at the 2012 French Open, when Seppi won the first two sets before falling to the eventual runner-up.

MILOS RAONIC (0-10)

Raonic's biggest strength – his serve – may be a huge advantage in most matches, but rarely when he is taking on arguably the best returner in the sport's history. That has proven to be the case, although four of his 10 losses to Djokovic have come on clay. Since 2013, Raonic has lost eight of the meetings in straight sets, while eight of the 26 sets between them have gone to tie-breaks, seven of those won by Djokovic. Unlike some of the others on this list, the 29-year-old Canadian may get a chance to end the unwanted record.

Novak Djokovic will face Roger Federer in the Australian Open semi-finals after the defending champion eased past Milos Raonic in the last eight.

The match was delayed after Federer's clash with Tennys Sandgren went to five enthralling sets, the Swiss great saving seven match points before winning despite being troubled by a groin injury.

Djokovic's progress was far more serene, the world number two dispatching Raonic 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in two hours and 49 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, even though an issue with his eyesight proved problematic in the closing stages.

Raonic had lost all nine of the previous meetings with Djokovic but, having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas and Marin Cilic en route to the quarter-finals without the loss of a set, the Canadian had reason to feel a little more confident.

Raonic fired down 35 aces against Cilic but Djokovic appeared almost telepathic in his reading of the serve, the world number 35 battling to save five break points to push the Serbian to 5-4 in the first.

Djokovic at last found the breakthrough with his fourth set point in the next game, celebrating with gusto when Raonic sent a forehand wide.

The seven-time champion was looking at ease on court, having made just two unforced errors in the opening 10 games, and he was 4-1 ahead in the second in what seemed no time at all after a brilliant backhand passing shot set him up for another break.

After being upset when some supporters cheered a missed first serve, leading to a double fault, Djokovic responded with a point to his box as he closed out the set for a 2-0 lead.

Raonic regained some of the metronomic rhythm he showed in the earlier rounds but could not put enough pressure on the Djokovic serve, a simple backhand slapped into the net at 3-2 and 30-40 in the third gifting his opponent a way out of possible trouble.

Two stunning defensive shots and a forehand down the line from Djokovic left Raonic looking ashen-faced at the net, and the Serbian bounced his racquet off the court in frustration after failing to break for a 4-3 lead.

Raonic held to love to lead 5-4 after Djokovic took a timeout for a contact lens issue, and he seemed still to be troubled by his vision as he consulted the trainer at the change of ends.

Raonic found four more big serves to stave off break points and a stylish volley made it 6-5, Djokovic's problems persisting despite applying eye drops after the previous game.

Having held serve comfortably to force the tie-break, Djokovic moved 3-0 ahead after Raonic netted a routine forehand, and a similar miss handed Djokovic the win on his first of five match points.

Roger Federer saved seven match points against Tennys Sandgren, who will be left to rue missed chances in their Australian Open quarter-final.

Federer eventually overcame a leg injury and his American opponent 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 in three hours, 31 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

But Sandgren squandered seven match points in the fourth set, including four in an extraordinary tie-break.

We take a closer look at the match points Federer saved.

First match point: Federer serving at 4-5, 40-AD in fourth set
With a second serve to play with, Sandgren gets into the point and a deep backhand is returned by Federer. But the American pulls the trigger too early with his next chance, sending a backhand into the net as he tries to go down the line.

Second match point: Federer serving at 4-5, 40-AD in fourth set
Another second serve to aim at, Sandgren gets into the point, but it is Federer dictating before the American sends a tame forehand wide.

Third match point: Federer serving at 4-5, 40-AD in fourth set
Sandgren manages to get into the point despite a good Federer serve down the middle before hitting the tape with a forehand from behind the baseline.

Fourth match point: Federer serving at 3-6 in fourth-set tie-break
Another Federer second serve, Sandgren controls the first part of the point from the baseline. However, he allows the Swiss great to work his way back into it before putting a backhand into the net as he tried to change direction by going down the line.

Fifth match point: Federer serving at 4-6 in fourth-set tie-break
Federer lands an excellent serve that Sandgren cannot return.

Sixth match point: Sandgren serving at 6-5 in fourth-set tie-break
Finally an opportunity on serve, Sandgren attacks but just cannot do enough with a backhand volley. He reaches for a forehand volley but Federer has an open court to play into to level the tie-break.

Seventh match point: Federer serving at 6-7 in fourth-set tie-break
Once again, Federer misses a first serve. They rally backhand-to-backhand as Sandgren shows good depth before Federer eventually changes the direction during a 19-shot point. But it is a slice that undoes Sandgren, whose return goes halfway up the net.

Roger Federer is hopeful over his injury sustained in the Australian Open quarter-final, labelling it "just pain and problems" after his epic win over Tennys Sandgren.

Federer saved seven match points in a thrilling 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory over Sandgren in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The 20-time grand slam champion took a medical timeout during the third set and later revealed his groin was troubling him.

Federer, 38, hopes the worry is minor ahead of a semi-final against either Novak Djokovic or Milos Raonic on Thursday.

"I don't know if you can call it an injury. It's just pain and problems. I need to figure it out now," the Swiss great told a news conference.

"But as it's not like in 18 hours, like you got a third round to play, semi-finals, you have an extra day, adrenaline, there's a lot of things. Two good nights of sleep, doctors, physios.

"Hopefully we'll find out that it's actually nothing bad, that it was just the groin that went really tight from playing a lot, who knows what, from nerves.

"I don't know. I'm hopeful. We'll find out tonight, tomorrow. The next day we'll see how it goes."

Federer has already spent 12 hours and 38 minutes on court, only winning his first two matches in straight sets and being pushed to five twice.

But despite his worries, the six-time champion in Melbourne still believes in his chances of success at the year's first grand slam.

"I mean, look, if I can get through a match like this, through a match like [John] Millman [in the third round], yeah, you do believe," said Federer, who also had treatment on his right hamstring before the final set.

"I only believe it once it's over, I shake the hand of the opponent, that it's over, that it's fine.

"So, yeah, I do always believe until it's actually over, never before."

Tennys Sandgren felt Roger Federer's "level picked up" during the match points he squandered in their epic Australian Open quarter-final.

Federer – battling injury – incredibly saved seven match points before claiming a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

Sandgren was somewhat tentative and Federer gave nothing away during those decisive moments, with the 20-time grand slam champion coming from 6-3 down in the tie-break in the fourth set.

The American, left tired after a battle lasting three hours and 31 minutes, gave credit to Federer.

"I just tried to keep playing it, playing the tennis portion of it," Sandgren told a news conference.

"Like I said, it just seemed like his level picked up when his back was right up against the wall.

"He just wouldn't give me anything. Credit to him, for sure."

Sandgren only had one match point on his own serve, while four came after Federer missed first serves.

The world number 100, who was playing his second grand slam quarter-final, felt the missed opportunities were not as bad as they looked

"One on my serve. Really not that many. If I had, like, six on my serve, I'd be really p***** off," a smiling Sandgren said.

"One on my serve, and I think I made the first serve, he gave it a good stick on the forehand, which is not surprising either, yeah."

Roger Federer is still delivering, but it's all a little different.

After saving seven match points, Federer overcame Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 in an epic Australian Open quarter-final on Tuesday.

It was often scrappy and at times workmanlike, but the Swiss great delivered once more – albeit in a different way – on the grand slam stage.

Federer is a 20-time grand slam champion whose last major success came in 2018 and has two fellow all-time greats standing in his way over and over again on the biggest stage.

So, battling a leg injury which seemed to improve as the match went on, he needed three hours, 31 minutes to beat the American world number 100.

He hit 56 unforced errors and now has 208 for the tournament at an average of 41.6 per match. He had what looked like a soft draw and has turned it into 12 hours, 38 minutes of time on court, including two huge comebacks in five-setters.

It is the first time in his illustrious career that Federer has not faced a top-40 opponent on his way to a grand slam semi-final. Steve Johnson (75), Filip Krajinovic (41), John Millman (47), Marton Fucsovics (67) and Sandgren (100) should not have caused him as many problems as they have.

At 38 and with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, 32 and 33 years old respectively, continually standing in his way, Federer is going to have to deliver in ways other than winning grand slams.

On a slow court and with Djokovic likely awaiting in the semi-finals, his Australian Open chances seem slim even though he is into the last four. Wimbledon is still shaping as his best hope of another grand slam, yet he has thrilled more so than anyone else at the year's first major.

After his win over Millman, when he came from 8-4 down in the match tie-break, Federer said: "I think if I do play tennis it's because of winning titles, trying to win as many matches as possible, enjoy myself out on court but also being in epic matches like this.

"It doesn't always have to be finals, I guess. As long as the crowds are into it, you have a great battle with an opponent who you really admire and respect, it's a good feeling.

"I'm happy I had that match. I hope I would feel the same way also if I would have lost, to be honest."

Crowds are always behind Federer and again it proved on Tuesday at Rod Laver Arena and, if entertainment is the objective, he – and Sandgren – well and truly delivered.

It wasn't vintage Federer, but so what?

Roger Federer was under no illusion that he survived a major scare when coming through his gruelling Australian Open quarter-final with Tennys Sandgren in five sets.

After winning the first set with little fuss, Federer began to struggle and lost the next two 6-2 to the American, requiring a medical timeout when 3-0 down in the third.

With his groin and leg causing Federer discomfort, he was on the brink of defeat in the fourth set, facing a total of seven match points.

But he showed remarkable resilience to fight back and level the contest, with a visibly frustrated Sandgren struggling to keep his emotions in check.

Federer closed out the match, taking the final set to clinch a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory, but he claimed he did not deserve the victory given Sandgren outscored him in terms of aces, overall points and winners.

"You've got to get lucky sometimes, I'll tell you that," a jovial Federer said in his on-court interview. "In those seven match points you're not in control, it may not look that way.

"I don't know, I was just hoping that he wasn't going to smash the winner on that one point, and just keep the ball in play, and if he misses one or two, who knows what he's thinking about?

"Even that didn't really matter. I think he played his match, I got incredibly lucky and then as the match went on, I started to feel better again.

"All the pressure went away, and I started to play. Again, I got a little lucky with the breaks and served really well I think for most of the game, particularly at the end.

"I don't deserve this one, but I'm standing here and obviously very happy.

"I don't like calling the trainer, ever, because it's a sign of weakness and all that stuff, and I try not to show it. The best is when it's a groin [injury], so you go off court and no one knows what it is.

"I just said, 'I believe in miracles'. It could rain, there could be stuff [happening]. It [the injury] wasn't bad enough where I thought it was going to get worse, I was just stiff and tight – [I was thinking] 'let him finish me off in style', and he didn't do that, so I'm incredible lucky today, tonight… I don't even know what time it is."

The 20-time grand slam winner will face either Milos Raonic or defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and, while the prospect of facing the latter when not 100 per cent fit is by no means kind, Federer is ready to embrace whatever happens after riding his luck.

"The draws are not getting easier, but I've got the rest of the day with nothing to do, the next day with nothing to do and then I'm playing at night. You do feel better in a couple of days and then you never know," he said.

"With these lucky escapes, you might play without any expectations anymore because you know you should already be skiing in Switzerland! I'm lucky to be here and might as well make the most of it."

Roger Federer produced an epic comeback in the Australian Open quarter-finals, saving seven match points in a win over Tennys Sandgren.

The 20-time grand slam champion appeared set for a shock loss in Melbourne, battling a leg injury from the third set onwards on Rod Laver Arena.

Instead, he delivered a spectacular comeback, reaching the semi-finals with a 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 victory that was special even by his standards across three hours, 31 minutes.

Federer saved seven match points in the fourth set, including coming from 6-3 down in the tie-break, having needed a medical timeout.

The 38-year-old moved into his 46th grand slam semi-final and became the oldest man to get into the last four at the Australian Open since Ken Rosewall in 1977.

After squandering five early break point chances, Federer took his sixth when Sandgren sent a backhand long in the sixth game.

While Federer closed out the opener, a flurry of errors saw him give up a break and fall 3-0 behind to begin the second.

Federer committed 15 unforced errors in the second set – eight from the backhand side – as Sandgren levelled the match.

The Swiss great's struggles continued into the third, broken in the second game when he sent a tame forehand into the net.

Sandgren came from 0-40 down in the third game of the set, during which a frustrated Federer was given an audible obscenity warning before receiving treatment off the court.

Struggling physically, Federer tried to hang in there before giving up the set with a backhand into the net.

Mixing his game up, Federer fought hard against a seemingly undistracted Sandgren in the fourth set before saving three match points in the 10th game as the American faltered.

Sandgren put two match point opportunities into the net and sent another wide before saving a break point to take a 6-5 lead.

In an extraordinary tie-break, Federer came from 6-3 down and saved four more match points to force a decider as the Rod Laver Arena crowd erupted.

Federer had his right hamstring treated before the fifth set and he appeared far more mobile as he took control of the contest.

A break for 4-2 set him up and he had no trouble closing it out, an unreturnable serve wrapping up the amazing comeback.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Roger Federer [3] bt Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Federer – 44/56
Sandgren – 73/53

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Federer – 5/3
Sandgren – 27/5

BREAK POINTS WON  
Federer – 2/13
Sandgren – 4/14

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Federer – 65
Sandgren – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Federer – 71/53
Sandgren – 79/45

TOTAL POINTS  
Federer – 160
Sandgren – 161

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem reignite what is a growing rivalry with a quarter-final clash at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Thiem is shaping as the successor to Nadal's crown at Roland Garros, where he has fallen to the Spaniard in two French Open finals.

The Austrian has enjoyed some success over Nadal previously and with the courts playing slow at Melbourne Park, this appears set to be a battle.

We take a closer look at Nadal's form ahead of the quarter-final showdown.

 

Form and results

Nadal needed a strong performance to overcome the dangerous Nick Kyrgios and he delivered on Rod Laver Arena. The world number one and 19-time grand slam champion hit 64 winners and just 27 unforced errors in an impressive display. While scratchy in a second-round win over Federico Delbonis, Nadal has been relatively untroubled otherwise in Melbourne.

R1: bt Dellien 6-2 6-3 6-0
R2: bt Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-1
R3: bt Carreno Busta [27] 6-1 6-2 6-4
R4: bt Kyrgios [23] 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4)

Next up

His toughest test yet awaits in fifth seed Thiem, a player who has beaten Nadal in four of their 13 meetings. Incredibly, 12 of those have been on clay, a surface they both love, with the only hard-court clash proving a thriller Nadal edged in a fifth-set tie-break after almost five hours at the US Open in 2018. Thiem has been forced to battle at different times at the year's opening grand slam, but is coming off a straight-sets win over Gael Monfils. Nadal holds a 6-5 win-loss record in Australian Open quarter-finals, something which should give Thiem some hope.

Draw

If Nadal can get past Thiem, a semi-final clash against Stan Wawrinka or Alexander Zverev awaits in a seemingly favourable draw. Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer would likely follow in the final.

What he said

"It's a very tough match. He's playing well. I saw him play today against Gael. He was playing a very high level of tennis. We know each other well. He's a player that I like him a lot, the way that he works, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always. It's a match that's going to be a tough one, but will be interesting. I am excited to play this quarter-final against Dominic. I know I have to be at my best to have chances. I think I am moving in the right direction. Every day I'm playing a little bit better."

Nick Kyrgios mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant but said the NBA legend's achievements were an inspiration to him during his Australian Open clash with Rafael Nadal.

Home hope Kyrgios walked onto the court wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey adorned with the number eight Bryant made famous at the start of his two-decade career with the franchise. 

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Taking to Rod Laver Arena the following day, an emotional Kyrgios succumbed to a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) loss against the world number one, but revealed Bryant's passing had been on his mind.

"I never met Kobe but basketball is practically my life. I watch it every day. I've been following it for as long as I can remember," said Kyrgios.

"When I woke up to the news, it was pretty emotional. It was pretty heavy, like, all day. Obviously I was having basketball on at my house, watching the games. It was heavy. It's just tough. It's horrible news.

"If you look at the things he stood for, what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight. When I was down a break in the fourth, I was definitely thinking about it. I fought back."

Kyrgios is a fan of the Boston Celtics, a side who were often on the receiving end of Bryant's brilliance, but the 24-year-old had long admired the five-time NBA champion's skill and dedication to his craft.

"I'm a Celtic fan. When I saw Kobe do what he does, break the hearts of so many Celtics fans, it was tough to see," he said.

"I don't think they make them like him anymore. He was different, the way he trained, the way he did things, the way he played. He was special."

Rafael Nadal conceded nerves almost got the better of him at one stage against Nick Kyrgios but feels he is playing better every day after booking an Australian Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem.

The world number one hit 64 winners to just 27 unforced errors to impressively beat a motivated Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) in a tense fourth-round encounter.

While the Australian acknowledged Nadal had performed better than him on the biggest points, the Spaniard noted he had struggled at one key period on Monday.

Serving for the match at 5-4 up in the fourth set, he lost the game to allow Kyrgios back into the match and had to make a gutsy hold soon after just to force a second tie-break, which he ultimately won.

"I played a bad game, that's true," said Nadal. "I was playing great with my serve, winning all the games with very positive feelings. 

"In the 5-4 game, like everybody, I get a little bit more nerves, I was nervous at that moment.

"I played a bad game. I accept I was more nervous at that moment. I am humble enough to accept that sometimes I am nervous and I can have mistakes. That's what happened.

"I kept going, because in the next game I have 15-40 again. I was not able to achieve the break but I said after it got to 6-5, 'I need to forget the bad game with my serve, we are still very close to the victory'. 

"I needed to play with the right determination until the end of this set. I can lose, I can win, but I cannot play with more nerves than what I should. I did it already once, and I didn't want to repeat that. 

"And I think I didn't – in the 6-5 I played a great game with my serve. In the tie-break, I was serving well. I played a solid tie-break.

"Anything could happen in the tie-breaks. Both of them have been very close."

Nadal is optimistic about the state of his game after reaching a 12th Australian Open quarter-final, with the Kyrgios match being the first time he has dropped a set at the tournament.

He added: "I am moving in the right direction. Every day I'm playing a little bit better.

"Very tough match next against Dominic. He's playing well. I saw him play against Gael Monfils and he was playing tennis at a very high level.

"We know each other well. He's a player that I like a lot, the way that he works, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always.

"It is a match that going to be a tough one, but it will be interesting, no? I am excited to play this quarter-final. I know I have to be at my best to have chances."

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