Nadal ramps up form ahead of quarters

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Melbourne, Jan 25 (AFP) World number one Rafael Nadalsent out a warning to his rivals that he''s back in businessahead of Wednesday''s Australian Open quarter-final with DavidFerrer.

Nadal, bidding for a fourth straight major title tocomplete a non-calendar year ''Rafa Slam'', tagged Monday''sstraight-sets win over Marin Cilic in the fourth round as hisbest in the tournament and declared he was healthy.

That''s all foreboding news for compatriot and seventhseed Ferrer for their quarter-final, which guarantees aSpaniard will play in the semi-finals.

In Wednesday''s other quarter, last year''s finalist AndyMurray has an intriguing match-up with Ukrainian giant-killerAlexandr Dolgopolov.

Nadal had been troubled by a virus he picked up in Dohaon his way to Australia but there was no sign of his massivesweating in the previous match as he ratcheted up his levelagainst last year''s semi-finalist Cilic.

"I feel I played my best match by far at this year''sOpen. I think it was a very good match for me and a veryimportant victory," Nadal said. "I was able to play with highintensity, very good rhythm, playing more inside the court."

Nadal has a 11-3 record over Ferrer, who beat the worldnumber one twice in 2007, including a four-set fourth roundvictory at the US Open.

"We know each other well. We''ve played each other a lotof times. I think he''s a fantastic player for many years so Ihave all respect for him," Nadal said.

"I know it''s going to be a really difficult match."

It will be Nadal''s fifth successive Australian Openquarter-final and he is in the midst of a 25-match Grand Slamwinning streak, his longest, but four off the record run of 29held by Rod Laver.

The winner will play either British fifth seed Murray or46th-ranked Dolgopolov in the top-half semi-final.

Murray, who was shattered by his defeat in last year''sfinal by Roger Federer after holding five set points in amarathon third-set tiebreaker, said he was ready for the bigmatches of the tournament.

"I feel good. The matches are definitely going to gettougher," he said. "I''ve been moving well. I''m hitting theball the best I''ve have done since the early matches, but it''sgoing to get much tougher. I''m ready for that mentally."

Murray is bidding to win Britain''s first male Grand Slamsince 1936 and was impressive in losing just five games toAustrian Jurgen Melzer in the round of 16.

Murray, who has yet to drop a set in his four matches atthis year''s Open, is undefeated in seven matches so far thisseason. (AFP) AT

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