Australian Open Men’s QF:
Rafael Nadal demolished Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, on Tuesday, putting himself into a sixth Australian Open semi-final.
After defeating the 21-year-old who celebrated his birthday a day earlier, the 32-year-old second seed Nadal will face another young gun in Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek 20-year-old showed that his weekend upset of Roger Federer was not an accident as he produced a defeat of Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2).
Nadal was unstoppable as he schooled Tiafoe to keep his record perfect without the loss of a set. His last event was the US Open four months ago before dealing with injury and minor ankle surgery.
“It’s very emotional to be back in the semi-finals here,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner said. “I’ve had some problems here during my career.
“This means everything to me, I’m very happy to win. I”m lucky to be back where I am, competing at this level.”
Nadal defeated Tsitsipas twice last year; but in the interim, the youngster has won his first title, taking the honours in Stockholm in October followed by Milan’s NextGen trophy.
“He’s been improving every month,” Nadal said. “He’s able to win against the best of the world.”
Tsitsipas is the youngest semi-finalist here since 2003 and the first Greek player to advance this far at a major.
“This is like a fairytale, I’m living a dream,” he said. “I was asked at the start of the season what were my goals,
“I said the semi-finals of Grand Slam – but I didn’t expect that to come this soon.”
Bautista Agut, who was put to the test during the first week by winning three five-set matches, saved a match point in the 12th game of the fourth set which brought on a tiebreaker.
Tsitsipas said he stayed tough as he was denied on his first opportunity against a difficult adversary.
“Roberto was playing great today. He showed some good tennis the entire week.
“It was a pretty balanced match. The difference is who is going to press more and be more aggressive than the other.
“But I did surprise a little bit myself with my performance.”
The No. 15 charged into the fourth-set tiebreaker, running out a 5-2 lead and advancing after three and a quarter hours on the first of four additional match points.
Bautista Agut finished his best career showing at a major, winning three five-set matches, which sapped his reserves.
” I played a lot of five sets, yes. Today I was a little bit tired or feeling the last matches I played here,” the Spaniard said.
“But I have to be happy about how I played during all the tournament.”
The breakthrough player said that he was pleased to have followed through after his upset of Federer two days earlier.
“That was a great win, it got people’s attention, so my biggest challenge was to stay concentrated, stay focused on that I wanted to go further in the tournament.
“I’m really happy because it shows that it didn’t happen accidentally.”