MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal claimed a dominant straight-sets win over world number three Milos Raonic to advance to the semi-finals at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion was too clinical for the Canadian, winning 6-4, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 in two hours 44 minutes and will play Bulgaria's 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov in Friday's semi-final. He leads Dimitrov 7-1.
Nadal kept alive hopes of a much-anticipated ninth Grand Slam final with his great rival Roger Federer as the tournament got down to the last four.
It is the Spanish great's first Grand Slam semi-final appearance since his last 2014 French Open triumph after recent injury setbacks.
"Milos is a very difficult opponent. He beat me two weeks ago in Brisbane in a tough match so I decided to go a little bit more inside the court on the return tonight," said Nadal. "I knew that there were going to be tough moments in the match with a player like him, that he has one of the top serves in the tour."
It was the 30-year-old Spaniard's fifth Australian Open semi-final and his 24th in Grand Slams.
Nadal is bidding to win his second Australian Open title and become the first man in the Open Era — and only the third man in history — to win each of the four Grand Slam titles twice.
With his victory Nadal is projected to rise to six in next week's ATP rankings unless Dimitrov goes on to win the Australian title, in which case he would be number seven.
A title in Melbourne would lift Nadal to fourth on the world rankings.