rafael nadal, australian open
Rafael NadalReuters

That 'Never say die' spirit, those incredible runs, those stinging forehands and those lethal drop shots... when was the last time we saw such a fierce Rafael Nadal on the tennis court? That seems ages ago, when he was winning one trophy after another and ruling over the French Open for several years.

That same old Nadal has been spotted at the Australian Open 2017, bringing major reasons for fans of the no-nonsense Spaniard to cheer.

Also read: Denis Istomin - The man who SHOCKED Djokovic!

The 30-year-old Spanish star beat Alexander Zverev, the lanky 19-year-old German tennis star in the making, on Saturday at the Rod Laver Arena with a 4-6 6-3 6-7 6-3 6-2 score. Nadal is through to the Australian Open 2017 round of 16 now.

The match lasted for a total of four hours and six minutes, and took everyone's sleep away. That includes women's tennis glam-girl Victoria Azarenka's as well!

"Fighting!" That's the first word he mentioned post the match when asked how he pulled out the match from the brink of another shock defeat like the one Djokovic had earlier this week. "I'm running a lot. 

"Alexander is the future of our sport," the veteran spoke about his opponent who got immense plaudits for his performance on the day. "It's been a very tough match for me. When I was trying to bring my best tennis, he was pushing me further behind.

"Then I told myself that I need to fight for every point and forget the result of the match. I kept saying that 'today is the day'. With the support of the fantastic crowd in Melbourne as well, everything seemed less difficult!"

Rafa will now take on either Philipp Kohlschreiber on Gael Monfils in the upcoming round.