It was the same straight-set, no-contest treatment Nadal gave to 19-year-old Alex de Minaur in the third round and 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinals. Asked if he was trying to make a statement with the way he soundly defeated these up-and-coming talents, Nadal said: “They don’t need any message, no. They are good. They’re improving every month. So it’s always a big challenge to play against them.” Sure hasn’t seemed like it. Tsitsipas’ run to the first major semifinal of his nascent career was most notable for the way he beat 20-time major champion Federer in the fourth round, saving 12 of 12 break points across four sets and 3 hours, 45 minutes. But the left-handed Nadal was a much more difficult puzzle to solve. On Sunday, the 32-year-old Spaniard will try to earn his second Australian Open title — he won the hard-court event in 2009 — and his 18th Slam trophy. That final will come against either top-seeded Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille, who meet Friday.
Rafa rolls into the final over Tsitsipas 2, 4 and 0 pic.twitter.com/TdzKHvE0vt— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 24, 2019
A title would make Nadal only the third man in the sport’s history to win each Grand Slam title at least twice, joining retired Australian greats Rod Laver — a front-row spectator Thursday night in an arena named for him — and Roy Emerson.
.@RafaelNadal hasn’t dropped a set en route to the final.You’ve got to be happy with that 💪#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/YHoGyrDv5p — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2019
Even though he is wearing a strip of tape over an abdominal muscle that troubled him in the past, Nadal has been terrific in Australia, winning all 18 sets he has played. “I’m really disappointed today,” Tsitsipas said, adding that he hoped to “prove myself a little bit more, not let him dominate the entire match. Just felt wrong.”
Most Major titles in men’s tennis history. Rafa can get to 18 on Sunday with a win. Novak can get to 15 with two more wins:Federer – 20 Nadal -17 Djokovic – 14 Sampras – 14 pic.twitter.com/gxYUmhakrz — Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 24, 2019
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Big applause and congrats to @RafaelNadal and his whole team for bringing tennis to another dimension. His game is more than inspiring to me. I really hope to get closer next time.Big thanks to everyone for your support these two weeks here in Melbourne. I love this city! — Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) January 24, 2019