Rafael Nadal has warned Dominic Thiem he is getting better with every performance ahead of their meeting in the Australian Open quarter-finals. Nadal booked his place in the last eight when he beat Nick Kyrgios in four sets.
Earlier in the day, Thiem had sealed his place with a convincing three-set win over Gael Monfils.
Nadal and Thiem last met in the French Open final last year which saw the Spaniard win a record-extending 12th title.
The two men have played each other just once on a hard court – a titanic US Open battle which ended with victory for Nadal in five sets.
Nadal is a huge admirer of Thiem, who is regarded as the heir to his clay-court throne.
But the world No 1 feels he is improving with each win he gets in Melbourne and says he will have to be at his best to reach the semi-finals.
“Very tough match. He’s playing well,” he said.
“I saw him play today against Gael. He was playing a very high level the tennis.
“We know each other well. He’s a player that I like him a lot, the way that he work, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always.
“I think that I played my best match so far of this Australian Open. A very, very good feeling,” Thiem said.
“The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and then was managing to hold my serve well.
“I’m so happy because I’m for the first time in the quarter-finals here.”