By Ros Satar, in Melbourne

  • Rafael Nadal [2] def. Stefanos Tsitsipas [14] 6-2 6-4 6-0
  • 2009 winner reaches his fifth Australian Open final
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Rafael Nadal brushed Stefanos Tsitsipas aside to bid for a second Australian Open title.

 

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Rafael Nadal [2] def. Stefanos Tsitsipas [14] 6-2 6-4 6-0

The fairy-tale run of Stefanos Tsitsipas came to a juddering halt at the hands of a dominant Rafael Nadal as he closes in on a second Australian Open title.

Prior to the semi-final Tsitsipas, who downed Roger Federer in the fourth round, felt he had learned significantly from his encounter with Nadal in Toronto. However, from the outset Nadal’s aggression earned him an early break that set the scene for the match. Tsitsipas did stay with him for the next few games before Nadal took advantage of just his second break point for a 5-2 lead, serving for the first set comfortably.

It was a more competitive showing from Tsitsipas in the second set, successfully fending off three break points from Nadal before succumbing late in the set as Nadal served out to love to go 2-0 up.

The final set was a disaster for Tsitsipas struggling to stay on terms with Nadal’s aggression, barely gaining any points on his own serve, and surprisingly bringing up a single break point on the Nadal serve in the final game of the match, but to no avail.

Stefanos tsitsipas in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne

Stefanos tsitsipas in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2019, Melbourne | (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

A visibly shell-shocked Tsitsipas struggled to get his head around what had just happened. He told reporters: “Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match. It’s not that I was even close to get to something. I only got six games from that match.

“I don’t know, 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. Almost felt like just couldn’t play better. I don’t know.”

A change in Nadal’s service motion was picked up as early as the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, and it seemed to be a factor that had the most impact on Tsitsipas’ game.

He explained: “He did surprise me. His serve, he’s not the biggest server on tour, has a pretty average serve. But it’s annoying that I didn’t get close to break him at all.

“He’s just very aggressive from the baseline. That’s pretty much it. I really can’t think of something positive on that match. Probably the second set, which was the one that I got closer to. The rest, it kind of felt like in a way it wasn’t tennis so much like the other matches that I played. It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely.

“He gives you no rhythm. He plays just a different game style than the rest of the players. He has this, I don’t know, talent that no other player has. I’ve never seen a player have this. He makes you play bad. I don’t know. I would call that a talent.”

 

Who will win the Men’s singles title at the Australian Open 2019

 

Nadal confirmed how his game plan had paid off this tournament, admitting that he had been worried when he pulled out of Brisbane, but laid out what had been working this week,

“I played well, of course. 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.

“Yeah, I played solid with my serve, playing aggressive. Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days. That’s important for me, too, because the forehand was working fantastic during the whole week, week and a half, but the backhand was improving during the tournament. Tonight was even better than the previous rounds, no? Returning better. So, in general terms of course I have to be very happy about the way that I played.”

Nadal will play the winner of the second semi-final between Lucas Pouille and Novak Djokovic.

 

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