Nadal slams door on next generation at Australian Open
Rafael Nadal slammed the door on the next generation by defeating 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6/2; 6/4; 6/0 to reach his fifth Australian Open finals in Melbourne.
It was a superlative performance that lasted one hour and 46 minutes in Rod Laver Arena.
The great expectations preceding the match found justification when Tsitsipas took the first point on his serve and proceeded to lead 1-0 on the score board.
Nadal missed his first service delivery but took the point on the second. A missed drop shot placed him 15-30 but he leveled with his first ace and followed with two quick points to level 1-1.
Tsitsipas conceded a break in the third game and Nadal consolidated by ending with an ace. He won the fourth and sixth games at love on his serve.
In the seventh game, Tsitsipas reached 40-15 on his serve. Then, he committed a double fault on an ambitious second serve delivered at 204kmpn.
A second double fault took him to deuce. Nadal won the game on his first advantage, after chasing down a drop shot and deftly flicking the ball past a bewildered Tsitsipas who slipped. Serving with new balls, Nadal closed out the set 6-2.
Tsitsipas won the first game of the second set at love and Nadal leveled. Using the slice backhand to complement the flat drive, Tsitsipas dropped just one point before taking the third game with an ace.
Nadal won the fourth game while Tsitsipas had to come up with outstanding volleys and an ace to lead 3-2. With his 18th outright winner in the match and volleys, Nadal took the sixth game.
Tsitsipas seemed to come alive as he opened with an ace and clinched the seventh game without dropping a point but his opponent retaliated quickly.
The critical service break occurred in the ninth game. Serving with new balls, the Greek youngster hammered an ace but an unforced forehand error and a winner from Nadal placed him at 30-40.
He did not recover and Nadal proceeded to win the tenth game to take the set 6-4.
The rising star from Athens did not get a game in the third set. It was a letdown from the hype that hoped he would step out after defeating the defending champion, Roger Federer.
It was his third career meeting with Nadal. The Spaniard won the first set of all the three matches by the same 6/2 score.
He won their first ever contest in the finals of the 2018 Madrid Masters and also the second in Canada Masters the same year.