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Monday, 23 January 2017 15:06 PM GMT
Australian Open Day 8: Nadal, Serena reach last eight rounds up the action from the day and night sessions on Day 8 of the 2017 Australian Open. READ MORE

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal put an end to any thoughts of another day of shocks at the Australian Open as both reached the quarter-finals on a brutally hot Monday in Melbourne.

For Williams, it was another step closer to a record 23rd Grand Glam title; for Nadal it was more evidence that he might be in the kind of shape required to add to his 14 Grand Slam titles.

Ask anyone to name the best shot in women’s tennis and the chances are they will say the serve of Williams. It’s a stroke that has helped her to six Australian Open titles but on Monday against Barbora Strycova in her fourth-round clash, she was broken three times in her first four service games.

The Williams roar – the sign she is ready to fight - came midway through the set and though Strycova, who ran down everything in temperatures that topped 35 Celsius, forced Williams to battle harder than anyone else here this fortnight, the American snatched the first set and then held on in the second to record a 7-5, 6-4 win.

“I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now,” she said.“It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.”

She’ll need to be on her best game when she faces Britain’s Jo Konta in the quarter-finals, though, as the No.9 seed maintained her stunning start to 2017 by beating Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4.

The Russian led 4-1 in the second set, but Konta didn’t panic and reeled in Makarova to reach the last eight for the second straight year.

“I'm really looking forward to the challenge and I'm looking forward to being on court, out on court with her and competing against her,” ninth seed Konta said.

Even before the tournament began, Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said he felt Konta was one of the biggest threats to her title hopes and there is also another X Factor that the Briton will hope gets her over the line.

Her coach, Wim Fissette, is rather proud of the fact that he has coached four different players to have beaten Williams, beginning with Kim Clijsters, followed by Sabine Lisicki, Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka. What price a fifth?

Nadal back where he belongs 

It’s been 20 long months since Rafael Nadal last made the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam but his 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Gael Monfils in the night session saw him get there.

The Spaniard had to go for a bit longer than seemed likely after two one-sided sets, and was forced to come back from 4-2 down in the fourth. But he won’t mind about that, even if he admitted the efforts of a five-setter in the previous round and a four-setter with Monfils required plenty of effort.

“Now, I am a little bit tired,” he said. “But tomorrow hopefully I will be a little better, then the next day, perfect.”

Nadal will be working on his returns, no doubt, on his off day for he will take on Milos Raonic, who saw off Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in four sets, having shaken off most of the effects of a cold.

David Goffin, the Belgian 11th seed, upset No.8 Dominic Thiem 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 and will now play Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat an ailing Denis Istomin also in four sets, 2-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Croatian comeback continues

Now that she has remembered how to win at the Australian Open, 19 years after her first one, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni can’t stop. The Croatian beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2 and now plays fifth seed Karolina Pliskova, who showed no mercy to the final Australian in the draw, beating Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.

Quotes of the day

Rafael Nadal revealed why he had bought Xisca, his girlfriend, to Australia for the first time this year, while Lucic-Baroni had some inspirational words after reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final for 18 years...

Shot of the day

Monfils may have been worn down by Nadal in the end, but he still had time to come up with some amazing shots, including this no-look dropshot...

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