|Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning the men's singles quarterfinal match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 22, 2014. Nadal won 3-1. (Xinhua/Jin Linpeng)
MELBOURNE, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Rafael Nadal resisted a tough challenge from Bulgarian emerging star Grigor Dimitrov to advance into the Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday.
The Spanish No. 1 had to overcome a savage blister, a one-set deficit and an unusually shaky serve to secure the last four berth after a typically tenacious 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 triumph.
Nadal will next face the winner between four-time winner Roger Federer or Wimbledon champion Andy Murray on Friday night.
The top seed will require urgent attention to a deep wound on his racquet hand after twice needing extensive re-taping for the injury during his intense three-hour, 37-minute struggle with Dimitrov.
Tipped as a future world No.1 and dubbed "Baby Fed" for his silky playing style uncannily similar to Federer, Dimitrov showcased all his talents to push Nadal to the limit.
The 22-year-old had multiple set-point chances to seize the pivotal third set, only for Nadal to rally to a spirited four-set victory.
Dimitrov nailed a break in the second game of the match and wrapped up the first set 6-3 with a thundering ace.
Nadal whipped a signature off-forehand winner to break Dimitrov for the first time to creep ahead 2-0 lead in the second set.
But the top seed returned the break right back with three double-faults, a forehand wide and an unsuccessful challenge from the 13-time major winner.
It remained that way until Nadal ripped a forehand down the line to create three set points in the second-set tiebreaker and converted the first one to snatch the second set. The Spaniard celebrated like he'd won the title after putting the match level.
Nadal saved a break point early in the third set before gaining another break of his own in the fourth game when Dimitrov sliced a backhand into the net.
Clearly bothered by the nasty big blister, Nadal called for the trainer for the first time midway through the third set and moments later surrendered his sixth double fault to hand back the break.
In the second tiebreaker, it's the Spaniard again to beat with Dimitrov pulling another identical forehand wide to enable Nadal to nab the third set and claim the lead for the first time in the match.
Two scorching backhand passes earned the top seed the decisive break early in the fourth set and, when he grabbed another in the eighth game.