In the first blockbuster showdown of 2017, Rafael Nadal will meet Milos Raonic Friday in the Brisbane quarterfinals.
Nadal advanced to the quarterfinals crushing Mischa Zverev 6-1, 6-1 in under an hour.
“I played a great match, I think,” Nadal said. “Difficult say something negative, because in general I saw after, on the video screen, like, 30 winners and just a few unforced errors. Returning very well, I think. A lot of great passing shots. Not, you know, mistakes. Only thing, I am not sure about my percentage of serves. I think was not that good tonight, was the only thing. But for the rest, I think I played great.”
Raonic didn’t have much trouble either in defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-2.
Nadal, who’s now working with Raonic former coach Carlos Moya, has won six of seven meetings with the Canadian. The two last played with Rafa winning at 2015 Shanghai. Raonic earned his lone win at 2015 Indian Wells.
“He’s one of the toughest opponents on tour today, without a doubt. He’s the third in the world,” Nadal said. “His serve is huge, and he improved a lot from the baseline, too. It’s a match that you cannot do mistakes if you want to really have any chance.
“You need to be really focused with your serve and then try to play aggressive on the return. I gonna try to make it happen, knowing that it’s going to be extremely difficult match.”
Added Raonic of the matchup, “It’s exciting. I look forward to facing him, and obviously it’s a great task, one of great opportunities. I feel like I’m doing a lot of things well, and hopefully I can match up and play some good tennis.”
The match is scheduled for 4am ET in Brisbane.
Also on Friday, Dominic Thiem will meet Grigor Dimitrov in a tantalizing matchup. Kei Nishikori faces Australian Jordan Thompson and second seed Stan Wawrinka collides with Kyle Edmund.
In the women’s field the semifinals are set. Elina Svitolina, who upset Angelique Kerber today, takes on US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova.
French Open champion Garbine Muguruza challenges Alize Cornet.
Top 5 shots from Thursday:
FRIDAY BRISBANE SCHEDULE
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:00 am
ATP – K. Edmund (GBR) vs  S. Wawrinka (SUI)
ATP – [WC] J. Thompson (AUS) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  M. Raonic (CAN) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA –  E. Svitolina (UKR) vs  K. Pliskova (CZE)
SHOW COURT 1 start 11:00 am
WTA –  B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / S. Mirza (IND) vs S. Hsieh (TPE) / L. Siegemund (GER)
WTA –  A. Spears (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)
Not Before 4:30 pm
ATP –  D. Thiem (AUT) vs  G. Dimitrov (BUL)
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