Rafael Nadal edged Canadian 14th seed Dennis Shapolavov 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in 4hr 8min of thrilling action on Rod Laver Arena to reach his seventh semi-final in Melbourne where he is set to face either of Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils.
Australian Open: Rafael Nadal cruises to the semis after thriller against Dennis Shapolavov
Spain's Rafael Nadal outclassed Canada's Dennis Shapolavov to qualify for the semi-finals in the Melbourne tour
It was a hard-fought win for Nadal over the 22-year-old Canadian who was coming off a straight-set upset of third seed Alexander Zverev.
Nadal has a reputation of taking his time between the serves right up to the final second of the shot clock and Shapolavov believed he deserved a time violation.
"You're looking at the clock so long ago and he's still not ready to play. You've gotta code him," complained Shapovalov initially in the game.
Nadal asked Shapovalov what was wrong and the players had a brief discussion at the net to calm the situation.
He raced into a two-set lead but was visibly hampered by stomach issues before eventually coming through after a spirited fightback from Shapovalov, ultimately progressing in the end.
"It was very tough today. Honestly I didn't practice for it".
"Dennis was playing great. He is very talented, very aggressive and he was serving huge.
It's amazing to be in the semi-finals".
Nadal who is currently rivalled with rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on 20 major Grand slams will surely see this as an opportunity to go clear at the top.
Nadal last won the Australian Open in 2009 and had his 2021 season marred by a chronic foot injury as well as Covid 19.