Rafael Nadal Grigor Dimitrov Australian Open
Rafael Nadal consoles Grigor Dimitrov after their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open, 22 January. Reuters

Rafael Nadal is the last person who will throw the towel in and say: "alright man, that's enough, it just isn't happening for me today." For large parts of the match, especially at the beginning, Nadal was struggling, with his form, and his hand, heavily taped due to a blister, giving him a lot of trouble.

However, like the true champion that he is, Nadal fought through his relatively cumbersome form, and pain to see off the determined and sustained challenge of Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (9), 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Nadal had to stave off crucial set points in the third set, before finding his groove in the fourth to end the shattered Dimitrov's hopes of making his first Grand Slam semifinal.

"I played better in the fourth," Nadal said. "Yeah, I hit good shots, good passing shots, good forehands down the line. I was able to play a little bit more confident.

"But talking about the whole match, it is true that at the end we have to analyse everything a little bit. It is true I was lucky in the third, the tiebreak. In the second I had 2-0 and I lost my serve with three double faults. In the third I have 4-3 and serve for 5-3. So the first set was for him.

"But the next two sets I was, you know, in a favourable position more than him during the set. It's true that we went to a tiebreak. First tiebreak I won 7-3, 7-4, something like this. The second one, yes, was a tough one. But during the set I had the advantage.

"The serve didn't help me to save that advantage. That normally helps me not to win free points, because I improved my serve which helps me to start the points, in a good position, but today was not the case. I didn't start with the serve. I didn't win nothing with my serve, no? No advantage.

"That always creates you a little bit of a nervous situation and you will have to fight for every point, and that's mentally tougher."

Nadal struggled to hold his racket properly while serving owing to a pesky blister, with his struggles pretty evident during the entire match.

"With the forehand it is not a big issue," the world number one said. "With the serve, little bit. I feel that with the tape I can lose the racquet when I was serving. That's my feeling. The racket can go. That's a terrible feeling for a serve, because then when you have this feeling you are not able to accelerate at the right moment.

"You lose a little bit of the coordination. Yeah, that's a big deal. But right, I served slower. I served bad. I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great. And because of these victories, sometimes happens that next day you are able to play much better, and these victories at the end of the year are more important than the days that you are playing great.

"By the way, I didn't feel that I played that bad. I felt that the biggest problem was the serve because, serve like this produce me a problem for the rest of the things.  When you lose the confidence with one shot, one important shot, then you are not able to play with calm the rest of the shots.

"So I going to try to improve that for after tomorrow that I need. If not, I not going to have the chance to be in the final. I hope to be ready."

Dimitrov played as well he could have played really considering this was his first quarterfinal in a major and he was up against one of the best players in the world, and the youngster was understandably disappointed not to see a W next to his name at the end of the match.

"Well, there's a lot of mixed feelings right now," he said. "I'm a bit shattered. It's tough losing that match, my first quarterfinal. I came out expecting nothing less than to win. All the credit to Rafa. He's been a tremendous competitor, great guy off the court. We had a great battles the past year and now again, and hopefully in the future more.

"The one thing I'm really excited is to actually get back on the court in the upcoming weeks and start working and come up to the same stage and try to do it again. Of course I'm deeply disappointed. I mean, I'm not going to lie. But, you know, in the end of the day I have to take the positives and the negatives out of the match and just kind of move on.

"Happy with the situation at the moment. Again, all the credit to Rafa. I think he played a great match. Also his physicality came over towards the end of the match. He's not one of the best, I think he's the best player right now.

"Hopefully we're going to have more battles in the future together."