Australian Open: Rafael Nadal marches on into semis

Updated: Jan 23, 2019, 12:26 IST | AFP

World No. 2 Spaniard beat Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to enter semis

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal marches on into semis
Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates his men's singles quarter-final win over Frances Tiafoe at the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. Pics/AFP

Ruthless Rafael Nadal brutally swatted aside a bright young star in the Australian Open quarter-finals, before setting his sights on the leading new kid on the block, Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Spanish second seed continued his relentless progress by slaying giantkiller Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in just 107 minutes of power-packed, precision tennis. And Nadal, 32, warned Tsitsipas, 20, who knocked out Roger Federer in the fourth round, to be ready as the Spaniard would be at his best in Thursday evening's semi-final.

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova

'Need to play my best'
"For me is always the same: you are in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, you can't expect an easy opponent. Stefanos is one of the best players of the world. To have the chance to be in that final, I need to play my best, and that's what I am looking for," he told reporters. The Spaniard has been in irresistible form in Australia in his first tournament since limping out of the US Open and having foot surgery.

"I feel lucky to be where I am after what I went through to be able to compete at this level," he said. "That's why I get up in the morning and go to the gym and work hard."

"I had some trouble at this event all my career, so I'm very happy with the way I played tonight," said the Spaniard. Greek sensation Tsitsipas powered into the last four with a measured 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.

Tsitsipas became the youngest man to reach the semis at Melbourne Park since Andy Roddick in 2003 and the first player from Greece - man or woman - to get so far at Grand Slam.

Kvitova bounces back
Meanwhile, Czech Petra Kvitova had not gone past the last eight at a major since a burglar slashed her left hand in December 2016, forcing her out of the game for six months and leaving her with lasting nerve damage in the fingers of her racquet hand.

But the eighth seed has bounced back and is on a sensational 10-match unbeaten streak after claiming the Sydney International warm-up title. She proved too much for Ashleigh Barty, crushing the local hope 6-1, 6-4, and was in tears afterwards as she reflected on her long journey back to the top.

"Really, I didn't imagine to be back on this great stadium and play with the best. I'm calling it as my second career," said the two-time Wimbledon champion, who will face unseeded Danielle Collins in the semis. Collins continued her Cinderella run by bouncing back spectacularly to down Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarter-finals.

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