Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Nadal Beats Raonic, Returns to Grand Slam Semifinals
The tennis world is one step closer to a throwback dream final featuring Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Nadal beat Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-4 to reach the Australian Open semifinals, returning to the last four at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since winning the 2014 French Open.
“I think I’m not a very arrogant person so I always have doubts,” Nadal, 30, said when asked about Friday’s semifinal against Grigor Dimitov, against whom he is 7-1 all-time.
Nadal’s return ensures there’ll be three 30-somethings in the men’s semifinals, equaling the Open era mark set at Roland Garros in 1968. Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, 35, takes on 31-year-old Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss semifinal on Thursday at 3:30 AM ET.
“I love the sport more than anything,” Nadal said of the Federer-Wawrinka match. “If you don’t want to watch this match you don’t like a lot the sport.”
The women’s semifinals also contain three 30-somethings with the Williams sisters (Venus, 36, and Serena, 35) and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 34.
With Raonic’s defeat, the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in Australia are all out. No. 1 Andy Murray lost in the fourth round to Mischa Zverev, while No. 2 Novak Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champ, was stunned in the second round by Denis Istomin.
Raonic told reporters after the match he suffered another abductor injury and indicated he was uncertain for the Davis Cup.
“I’m very much up in the air,” he said.
The win over Raonic was Nadal’s 50th at Melbourne Park, where he won title in 2009 and lost in the final in 2012 and ’14.
The 30-year-old Spaniard saved six set points in the second set, including two in the 13-minute tiebreaker.
Nadal lost in the first round here last year and had extended injury layoffs before and after the U.S. Open to let his left wrist recover from injury.
Raonic last year reached the Australian Open semifinals, when he was hampered by a hip injury and lost to Murray after leading by two sets-to-one, and went on to reach the final at Wimbledon.
He improved to a career-high year-end No. 3 ranking and beat Nadal in three sets in the quarterfinals at the tuneup event in Brisbane earlier in the month.
Dimitrov had a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 11 David Goffin on Wednesday to reach the Australian Open semifinals, returning to the last four at a major for the first time since Wimbledon in 2014.
It was the No. 15-seeded Dimitrov’s fifth win from as many meetings with Goffin. He’s on a roll in Australia after winning the Brisbane International tuneup tournament ahead of the season’s first major.
Dimitrov said he’d be watching on TV to see who he plays next. Now he knows it’s Nadal, the 14-time major winner.
MAJOR TITLES FOR GRAND SLAM SEMIFINALISTS
Roger Federer – 17
Rafa Nadal – 14
Stan Wawrinka – 3
Grigor Dimitrov -0
(The AP contributed)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.