The clay court master Rafael Nadal simply outplayed world number three Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 and surged into the semi-finals of the year's first Grand Slam Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The 30-year old veteran proved to be way too good and smart for his 26-year old opponent and produced a spectacle for tennis fans all around the world.
After overcoming gruelling matches against Alexander Zverev and Gael Monfils, the quarter-final against big-serving Raonic was to be Nadal's toughest test. Nadal, in response, played his best game of the tournament to notch up a much deserved and anticipated victory.
Raonic definitely didn't look in his best form, and even required a medical break during the second set. His movement was sluggish and he wasn't up to the formidable Spanish challenge.
Nadal, on the other hand, displayed a fabulous counter-attacking show. While Raonic did earn 14 aces in comparison with Nadal's 4, it was the latter's strategy that beat the Canadian.
Nadal looked much more dominant from the beginning of the game and broke Raonic once in the first set to take the lead and then the set. Raonic looked much bigger and into his skin during the second set but Nadal, just like always, judged his opponent extremely well.
Nadal kept adapting to Raonic's game and capitalised on the Canadian's lack of mobility. Nadal's top spin was sublime and had Raonic on the ropes for most part of the game. His powerful backhand and the infamous 'fearhand' brought back all the great memories.
The Spaniard showed his old class when he saved six set points in the second set, including two points in the 13-minute tie-breaker. With his angled shots and boundless energy, Nadal blunted Raonic's big serve and went far beyond.
Nadal fell on his knees in ecstasy after winning the last point as the entire stadium and every viewer around the world rose to applaud the legend.
The Spaniard stayed on course with the most desired match-up at the moment — Federer vs Nadal summit showdown. On being asked whether he would watch the first semi-final, Federer vs Stan Wawrinka, on Thursday, Nadal said, "I love the sport more than anything else. If you don't want to watch this match, you don't love the sport."
Nadal will face Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, who waved off Belgian David Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the other quarter-final, on Friday.
All eyes will be on Federer on Thursday and at Nadal the day after, as the world awaits another classic showdown between the two formidable rivals.