MELBOURNE: Rafa Nadal faces a tricky test in his quest for a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title when he takes on Denis Shapovalov in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Tuesday (11am Malaysian time), but the Spaniard is relishing another battle with his fellow left-hander.

World No. 1 Ash Barty steps up her bid to emulate Chris O’Neil and give Australia a first home women’s singles champion at Melbourne Park since 1978. Standing in her way is American 21st seed Jessica Pegula (4pm), who has never reached the semifinals.

Nadal returned to action on the ATP Tour for the first time since Aug 5 earlier this month and has slowly moved into top gear at the first major of the year, reaching the last eight after a gritty performance against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The sixth seed expects another challenging encounter against Canadian Shapovalov, who beat him as a teenager in their first meeting on the hard courts at Montreal in 2017, although the 35-year-old has since improved the head-to-head record to 3-1.

“It’s going to be a tough one for me... It’s a match to try my best, to play at my highest level if I want to have chances to go through,” Nadal told reporters. “Yeah, I’m excited about it. I didn’t expect to be where I am weeks ago.”

Resurgent American Madison Keys, a former US Open runner-up, meets Czech fourth seed and French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova (9.30am) in an intriguing contest. Big-serving Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini takes on Frenchman Gael Monfils (5.30pm). – Reuters