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RAFA Nadal Makes Mincemeat Out Of Tsitsipas | Advances To 2019 Australian Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning his men's singles semifinal match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2019. EPA-EFE/MAST IRHAM
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning his men’s singles semifinal match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2019. EPA-EFE/MAST IRHAM

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Rafael Nadal rolled once again in Melbourne, disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 to earn a place in Sunday’s Australian Open final.

 

Nadal had already set the NextGen push back by destroying two of the most promising young players of the new generation of tennis in Alex de Minaur (third round) and Frances Tiafoe (quarterfinals). Tsitsipas got the next crack at the Spaniard and he was equally hopeless.

 

The 20-year-old had been the talk of the tournament so far–not unlike when he made the final in Toronto this past summer. He upset Roger Federer in the fourth round, beating the Swiss at his own game. And though he is not a grinder, Tsitsipas pulled out a four-set win over Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in action during his men's singles semifinal match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2019.  EPA-EFE/RITCHIE TONGO

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in action during his men’s singles semifinal match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 24 January 2019. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE TONGO

When asked about his impending match with Nadal, Tsitsipas said, “I felt very close to beating him in Toronto, though the score was 6-2, 7-6” and, “It’s going to be interesting. I feel like I can do something good against him.”

 

He was wrong.

 

Nadal totally overwhelmed his much younger opponent. The devastating form that the world No. 2 has displayed has shown all fortnight continued with perhaps his best performance of the tournament so far. Tsitsipas had no chance against the Nadal serve; the underdog did not earn a single break point in the match until the final game with Nadal serving at 5-0 for his second bagel of the event. Tsitsipas failed to convert.

 

“Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match,” the 15th-ranked Greek admitted. “It’s not that I was even close to get to something; I only got six games from that match. I feel very strange. I feel happy with my performance in this tournament, but at the same time I feel disappointed. I feel like I could do a bit better today. I don’t know. That’s how I felt. But it’s a very, very weird feeling. Almost felt like I just couldn’t play better.”

 

Nadal’s victory came in one hour and 46 minutes, which would be fast and efficient for any slam semifinal, but for Nadal it’s a win at basically warp speed. He has accomplished something he hasn’t been able to do in the past, a big reason why his body at times break down due to the physicality of his tennis: playing short points. Armed with an improved serve, Nadal has put together his most impressive, dominant run ever in Melbourne.

 

“I played well, of course,” he assessed. “I have been playing well during the whole event. Every match, more or less, I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight, was another one. I played solid–with my serve, playing aggressive. Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days.”

 

The 2009 AO champion awaits the winner of Novak Djokovic vs. surprise semifinalist Lucas Pouille. They are playing the second semifinal on Friday night.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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