Rafael Nadal will be a strong favourite to end Frances Tiafoe’s best grand slam run, but the second seed is expecting a tough quarter-final.
Rafael Nadal is braced for a stern test from a “dynamic” and “dangerous” Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Nadal breezed into the last eight at Melbourne Park on Sunday with a 6-0 6-1 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Tomas Berdych.
The second seed will be a strong favourite to beat the unseeded Tiafoe, who ousted Grigor Dimitrov on his 21st birthday to reach his first grand slam quarter-final.
Nadal did not a drop a set in the opening week as he eyes an 18th major title, but the world number two is not expecting an easy ride against American Tiafoe in what will be their first meeting.
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“He’s quick, he serves well. Very quick forehand, he’s a very dynamic player, aggressive one. Of course, he’s dangerous, he’s in the quarter-finals.
“He won great matches during the whole event, it is going to be a tough one, as you expect in the quarter-finals of a grand slam. You cannot expect an easy match.
“I just can say from my side I’m happy to be in that round. I played some good matches and now is the moment to keep making steps forward to give myself chances to keep going.
“Tomorrow is another day of practice to keep working. I am going to try to be 100 per cent ready because it is going to be a tough one.”
Tiafoe is relishing the prospect of facing one of the all-time greats and plans to lap up the occasion.
“I’m so excited to play Rafa. We’re going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies. I hope I can play on [Rod] Laver [Arena]. That would be cool. I guess all the matches are on Laver now, right?” said Tiafoe.
“That’s just an honour playing on that court. Obviously playing Laver Cup a couple times, getting to know Rod a little. Obviously he’ll be there, playing arguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time, yeah. Just have some fun out there.”