Nadal ramps up form ahead of quarters
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 12:58
Melbourne: World number one Rafael Nadal sent out a warning to his rivals that he's back in business ahead of Wednesday's Australian Open quarter-final with David Ferrer.

Nadal, bidding for a fourth straight major title to complete a non-calendar year 'Rafa Slam', tagged Monday's straight-sets win over Marin Cilic in the fourth round as his best in the tournament and declared he was healthy.

That's all foreboding news for compatriot and seventh seed Ferrer for their quarter-final, which guarantees a Spaniard will play in the semi-finals.

In Wednesday's other quarter, last year's finalist Andy Murray has an intriguing match-up with Ukrainian giant-killer Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Nadal had been troubled by a virus he picked up in Doha on his way to Australia but there was no sign of his massive sweating in the previous match as he ratcheted up his level against last year's semi-finalist Cilic.

"I feel I played my best match by far at this year's Open. I think it was a very good match for me and a very important victory," Nadal said. "I was able to play with high intensity, very good rhythm, playing more inside the court."

Nadal has a 11-3 record over Ferrer, who beat the world number one twice in 2007, including a four-set fourth round victory at the US Open.

"We know each other well. We've played each other a lot of times. I think he's a fantastic player for many years so I have all respect for him," Nadal said.

"I know it's going to be a really difficult match."

It will be Nadal's fifth successive Australian Open quarter-final and he is in the midst of a 25-match Grand Slam winning streak, his longest, but four off the record run of 29 held by Rod Laver.

The winner will play either British fifth seed Murray or 46th-ranked Dolgopolov in the top-half semi-final.

Murray, who was shattered by his defeat in last year's final by Roger Federer after holding five set points in a marathon third-set tiebreaker, said he was ready for the big matches of the tournament.

"I feel good. The matches are definitely going to get tougher," he said. "I've been moving well. I'm hitting the ball the best I've have done since the early matches, but it's going to get much tougher. I'm ready for that mentally."

Murray is bidding to win Britain's first male Grand Slam since 1936 and was impressive in losing just five games to Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the round of 16.

Murray, who has yet to drop a set in his four matches at this year's Open, is undefeated in seven matches so far this season.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 12:58

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