RAFAEL Nadal has beaten Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16 in the Australian Open.

The Spaniard defeated the Australian 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-6 and advanced to the quarter-finals, where he will face world number five Dominic Thiem.

The world number one had not dropped a set so far in the tournament, but he had to work hard to overcome the 24-year-old Kyrgios.

The world number 23 had a slow start, as a result of his gruelling four and a half hour match against Karen Khachanov on Saturday and the tragic death of his sporting idol, Kobe Bryant last night.

The two men have not always seen eye to eye with the rivalry blowing up last year – with Nadal accusing Kyrgios of lacking respect for the sport and the Australian calling him ‘super salty’ in response.

Speaking after the game, the 33-year-old said: “When Nick is playing like he did today with this positive attitude he brings a lot of things to our sport.

“I encourage him to keep working like this because he is one of the biggest talents of our tour.”

Both athletes paid tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant who lost his life in a helicopter accident last night – Nadal with an Instagram post describing the Mamba as ‘one of the world’s great sportsmen and Kyrgios by wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with Bryant’s name on the back.

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