Top seed Nadal had come hurtling into the match with a brutal demolition of Gael Monfils, but encountered a far different beast in 16th seeded Japanese, who broke his serve for the first time in the tournament and rattled the Spaniard in a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-3) loss at Rod Laver Arena.
Battling fatigue, the impressive Nishikori rallied from 4-1 down to serve for the third set but Nadal broke back to force the high-quality clash into a second tense tiebreak.
The weary Nishikori belted a shot long to give Nadal three match points and the Spaniard sealed it on the first to set up a quarter-final with 22nd seed Grigor Dimitrov.


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