Spanish bull Rafael Nadal has foiled a comeback by sixth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils to book an Australian Open quarter-final berth.

Seeded ninth, Nadal looked in full control when up two sets to love before Monfils launched a comeback which fell short 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4. Nadal next faces third-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.

It will be the 30-year-old's ninth appearance in the final eight at Melbourne Park, winning the title in 2009. It's also the former world No.1's first grand slam quarter final showing since the French Open in 2015.

Nadal took advantage early of Monfils' inconsistent play.

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But Monfils showed there was more to his game than flamboyance as he made the veteran earn the win.

In the fourth set Monfils, 30, broke Nadal and then consolidated to take a 4-2 lead.

A 14-time grand slam champion, Nadal admitted after the match he felt he was losing the upper hand against his unpredictable opponent.

"The match was tough," Nadal said.

"He had chances then and he started to serve huge.

"I keep fighting with a positive attitude and finally I played last few games good."

Down 3-4, 0-30, in the fourth, the Spaniard showed his grit to level and then fired a trademark backhand winner to break back.

In a run of eight points, Nadal wrested back control of the match with an error by Monfils sealing the win on the second match point.

"I'm very happy to be in the quarter finals in a grand slam again after a couple of years without being there is very special," said Nadal, who made a first round exit from Melbourne Park last year.

"Especially here in Australia where I feel a little bit like home."