Rafael Nadal superbly defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas, and will soon compete in his fifth Australian Open final.
After conquering defending champion Roger Federer, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas could not see off two greats within a week as he was comfortably beaten by a superb Rafael Nadal, who will now compete in his fifth Australian Open final.
The semifinal was as comfortable for Nadal as the 6-2 6-4 6-0 scoreline suggests. The 17-time grand slam champion served brilliantly — he has yet to drop a set in this tournament — to progress to a 25th grand slam final of a remarkable career, five short of Federer’s all-time record.
Tsitsipas beat Federer in four sets in the fourth round Sunday and promised to “do something good” against Nadal in a highly-anticipated semifinal, but the Spaniard was too powerful for the Greek, giving him little opportunity to become only the third man to beat both Federer and Nadal at a major.
Asked by on-court interviewer John McEnroe whether he could play any better, a smiling Nadal replied: “Hopefully, yes.
“It’s been a great match, great tournament. I think I’ve played very well every day. A lot of months without playing — this court, this crowd, have given me multi-grand unbelievable energy.”
Much was expected of Tsitsipas, the first Greek player to reach a major semifinal and the youngest man to do so at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003, aged 20 years and 149 days. His stunning display against Federer, the two-time defending champion, had raised expectations.
But Nadal was playing at another level, performing at a standard not even the Spaniard has previously attained in Melbourne — he lost only 12 points on serve in the match and volleyed beautifully. Tsitsipas had no hope and folded in one hour and 46 minutes.
Nadal, aiming to become the first man in the open era to win each of the four grand slam titles twice, took the first set in 31 minutes, breaking in the third and seventh games, and losing just three points on serve.
The second set was a competitive, high-quality encounter until Nadal pounced in the ninth game, breaking the 14th seed and serving out to love.
By the third set, Tsitsipas’ resistance was all but broken as Nadal wrapped up his victory by winning eight games on the trot.
The final indignity for the 20-year-old Greek was when Nadal successfully defended Tsitsipas’ first break point of the match in what happened to be the contest’s last game.
Despite being outplayed and losing to Nadal for the third time in his career, Tsitsipas has the potential to become a multiple grand slam champion, according to the Spaniard.
“I would not be the one to say no,” he said when asked about the Greek’s potential.
“Good serve, good shots from the baseline. He has everything to become a multi-grand slam champion. When at that age he’s in the semifinals that says a lot of good things about him.”
For Nadal, the focus switches to Sunday’s final where he will bid to win the title for a second time — 10 years on since his first in Melbourne.
A second Australian Open crown would take him to within two of Federer’s record 20 major titles and complete another brilliant comeback for a player who was beset by injuries in 2018 — retiring in the quarterfinals in Melbourne because of a leg injury and retiring hurt at the US Open semifinals, too, with an abdominal muscle problem.
Having undergone surgery on his right ankle in November, the world No.2 even had problems at the beginning of this season, pulling out of a tournament in Brisbane with a thigh strain, but the time away seems to have allowed him to refine his game and, on Thursday’s showing at least, he is better than ever on hard courts.
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