But it was his French opponent Gael Monfils who drew attention on Monday night with a bizarre display of his own.
After going to a quick break of serve down at 2-0 in the first set, Monfils made his way over to the umpire's chair where he requested a new set of towels.
Not just any towels, however, he requested a set of non-regulation white bath towels, and asked the ball boy to have them ready by the end of the next service game.
It is not clear why Monfils had a problem with the game towels, though 7 commentator Lleyton Hewitt suggested several possibly explanations.
'Sometimes players prefer to use the white towel when they're out there,' he said.
'Sometimes the fluff from the new tournament towels comes off.'
Jim Courier added that the tournament towels often do not absorb sweat very well, which makes sense, considering the high humidity in Melbourne at the time.
Temperatures had reached 36C in the city during the day, but as night fell and rain was forecast, humidity jumped above 80 per cent.
The rain threat also forced tournament bosses to close the roof, further upping the temperature inside the arena.
Monfils was not the only one suffering in the heat - Nadal was also dripping with sweat from the first game on, with Twitter users describing him as 'leaking like a tap.'
In fact the sweat issue became so bad at one point that one of the ball boys had to towel it off the line close to where he was serving.
To the Spaniard's credit, he did acknowledge the volunteer's effort, patting them on the back as they completed the thankless task.
Monfils also received his request of white bath towels, but they did not appear to help him, as he lost the first set 6-3, having failed to recover from the early break.
The second set went the same way, with Nadal triumphing 6-3, before a comeback by Monfils in the third, which went to him 6-4.
He also threatened to take the fourth, breaking Nadal earlier on, but the former world number one battled back to claim it 6-4.
Nadal will now play No. 3 seed Milos Raonic, who he lost to in Brisbane earlier this month, in the quarterfinal.