Australian Open: Rafael Nadal powers past Frances Tiafoe to reach semi-finals

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal powers past Frances Tiafoe to reach semi-finals

He's the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003. Beating Federer? Well, that's a whole other story.

The 32-year-old reached his 30th Grand Slam semifinal and next faces 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eliminated two-time defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round and took care of No. 22-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Tuesday. He went on to praise Federer for being a "legend" in tennis, and he noted that he has a great deal of respect for him. It was a dream come true for me just being on Rod Laver facing him.

"When I was answering this question I thought I was insane but it is real and it just happened", he said. Winning at the end? "Winning at the end, I can not describe it".

However, another missed forehand gave Tsitsipas a first match point, and he did not blink.

"I have massive regrets, you know, tonight".

Federer was unable to extend his 17-match winning run in the first major of the year, however, Tsitsipas dropping his racket in disbelief when an opponent 17 years his senior netted a backhand on the first match point.


Football and swimming were also keen interests to a young Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas lost a serve after being given a second time violation in the first game, but showed great character to hold and settled quickly after a nervy start.

"That's why I get up in the morning and go to the gym and work hard". "He's a hell of a player, man", Tiafoe said. The world is still learning what the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas can do. That was the key to save those break points.

Tiafoe finally forced chances to break at 1-2 in the second set, but Nadal twice held out to keep up an wonderful run of not dropping his serve since 5-3 up in third set of his first round tie against James Duckworth.

And as is often the case when a youngster outdoes an old master, there was a buzz about whether this might signal something more meaningful.

Federer said he wants to avoid having a long break in the middle of the year before the grass season. And that was evident in his post-match interview on the court after he beat Bautista Agut. "Of course, he has a lot of time to improve, a lot of time to get enough experience to be in the finals of these tournaments", the Spanish world number 24 told reporters of Tsitsipas.


Bautista Agut saved one match point in the 12th game of the fourth set after a thrilling 23-shot rally, but he was outclassed in the ensuing tiebreak. A first-set tiebreak is in the low 30%s, considerably higher than the average match, although not almost in the bracket of two out and out big servers.

It marks the 11th time Nadal has reached the quarterfinals here.

Tiafoe has been copying his hero, basketball superstar LeBron James, with his celebrations this week, removing his shirt to thump his bare chest and his biceps. Prior to this Australian Open, the 25-year-old American hadn't won a single Grand Slam match, but now she is on a five-match winning streak with victories over three seeded players - including 2016 victor Angelique Kerber, whom she beat in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals. Then he sat in his chair and covered his head with a towel.

Playing only his second Australian Open, Tsitsipas had ridden a wave of confidence while ousting Federer. Well, we're all of three weeks into 2019 and that box is checked.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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