A pumped-up Nadal, who is chasing a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title, was pushed all the way by Adrian Mannarino in the first set before breaking the Frenchman’s resolve in a 7-6 (16/14), 6-2, 6-2 victory in searing heat.
“First set was very emotional,” said the 35-year-old Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, who pumped his fists after emerging victorious from an epic 28-minute tiebreak on a steamy day in Melbourne.
“That crazy first set was so important.”
The Spaniard, who dropped a set for the first time in the tournament before powering past Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the previous round, will now face Canadian 14th seed Shapovalov in the last eight.
Shapovalov left Olympic champion and third seed Zverev still searching for a first major title after beating him 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
“It’s always an honour to play someone like Rafa,” said the 22-year-old Shapovalov.
“Always fun, always going to be battle, it’s going to be tough.” (AFP)