Australian Open: Rafael Nadal was forced to dig deep against Grigor Dimitrov
Last Updated: 22/01/14 2:13pm
Rafael Nadal: Is through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open
Rafael Nadal defied a painful blister and the dogged challenge of Grigor Dimitrov to reach the semi-final of the Australian Open.
Nadal was troubled by the blister on the palm of his left hand, which he suffered in his win over Kei Nishikori, throughout the contest while Dimitrov kept the pressure on him throughout.
The teak-tough Spaniard kept cool, though, to register a 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 victory.
"I hope you enjoyed it, I suffered a lot," said Nadal. "The rest of the things are more or less fine but with the serve I sometimes feel the racquet go.
"I have got to keep trying to improve the hand tomorrow, then after tomorrow be ready for a very, very tough match against Roger."
Dimitrov, playing in his maiden grand slam quarter-final, left the Rod Laver Arena with his reputation enhanced after pushing Nadal hard throughout - however the 22-year-old will rue his failure to win the big points when it mattered.
Dimitrov had got off to the ideal start as he broke the Nadal in the second game of the contest before going on to take the set.
Both players registered breaks in the second set, with Nadal really coming into the contest and cheering the big points as the set progressed.
Nadal held his nerve in the tiebreak, though, and it seemed as if the world No 1 would ease through the gears as he broke the Bulgarian 22nd seed in the third.
Dimitrov, though, hit back to level but he wasted a set point in the 12th game and another two in the tiebreak - before a wild forehand saw Nadal clinch the set.
"I was so lucky," admitted Nadal. "He had one set point where he missed a forehead, an easy one. Then with the set point for me he missed another close one."
A break after a marathon second game in the fourth set followed as Nadal turned the screw, with Dimitrov unable to find a way back into the contest.
And a second break in the eighth game sealed the win for Nadal, who will now face Roger Federer after he saw off Andy Murray.