Tennis  

Nadal, Tsitsipas through to Australian Open semifinals

Rafael Nadal. PHOTO: DON EMMERT / AFP

Rafael Nadal marched on into the semifinals of the on-going Australian Open with a ruthless 6/3, 6/4, 6/2 conquest of America’s Daniel Tiafoe. Earlier in the day, Greek’s new sports hero, Stefanos Tsitsipas edged closer to the title with his 6/4; 4/6; 6/4; 7/6 victory over Spain’s strongman Roberto Bautista Agut.

In the women’s event, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ended the dream run of America’s Danielle Collins 6/2, 5/7, 6/1 in two hours and 16 minutes, while the eighth seed Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic needed only 68 minutes to dash Australia’s hope, Ashleigh Barty 6/1; 6/4.

Nadal was facing the American for the first time and had expressed concern over the giant-killer antecedents of the unseeded player. Nadal took the first set on a single break of Taifoe’s powerful serve. The second set also was determined by a break of serve.

Tiafoe opened serving in the third and dropped the first two points. He reduced the tally to 15-30 but conceded the next two points to give his opponent the game.

Ever a great front runner, Nadal reached 40-0 with an ace but a backhand winner by Tiafoe and unforced error reduced the score before Nadal held to lead 2-0.

After taking the first point with a forehand winner, Tiafoe delivered three consecutive aces to take the third game. The American hit four winners to take the fifth game for 3-2.

Nadal lost the first point on serve in the sixth, but his aggressive play was crowned with an ace at game point. Tiafoe needed to win the seventh game to stay in the match, and quickly reached 15-40, but Nadal closed the game with a forehand winner.
Serving for the match, the maestro delivered two aces to reach 30-0. An aggressive return by Tiafoe elicited a Nadal forehand error. It was the American’s last hurray as Nadal hammered a forehand winner to reach 40-15 and closed out the match.

The statistics had Nadal amassing 88 total points to Tiafoe’s 61. However, the American tallied 13 aces to Nadal’s 11. In a match of high percentage success in first serves, neither player committed a double-fault.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas was facing the 30-year old Agut in their first career meeting. The Greek came to Melbourne having lost only one match this year, while Agut had won five straight matches before their clash.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek tennis player to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam event.

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