Ruthless Nadal roars past Tsitsipas into AO final

Published by AAP

World No.2 Rafael Nadal roars in celebration having reached a fifth Australian Open final.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion won his sole Australian Open title back in 2009, losing three further finals in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

Rafael Nadal has served up Stefanos Tsitsipas a brutal reality check, dismissing the rising Greek star 6-2 6-4 6-0 in their Australian Open semifinal.

Nadal put on a clinic at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night, bludgeoning the 20-year-old around the court with 28 winners to win through in just an hour and 46 minutes.

The result brings Nadal a fifth Australian Open final and a chance to secure a second title at Melbourne Park a decade after his 2009 triumph.

His opponent will be decided on Friday night when world No.1 Novak Djokovic faces French 28th seed Lucas Pouille.

Nadal is yet to drop a set this fortnight – an unlikely scenario after he withdrew from the lead-up Brisbane International under an injury cloud.

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“A few weeks ago when I was in Brisbane … having to take a very tough decision for me not to play there. In that moment it was difficult for me to imagine to be where I am today,” he said.

“Being honest that week in Brisbane, practice worked very well for me. Since the tournament started I felt really well.”

Nadal now stands on the brink of history. Success in the final would be his 18th Grand Slam and make him the first man in the Open era to win each major twice.

But the Spaniard – a warm crowd favourite on Thursday night as he will be on Sunday – has lost his last three Australian Open finals, including the brilliant six-hour 2012 decider against Djokovic.

Nadal will benefit from his shortest match of the tournament, clocking in at a minute under his quarter-final defeat of Frances Tiafoe.

His run to the final also included a third-round defeat of Alex de Minaur, meaning the 32-year-old sent three of tour’s next-gen stars packing.

While Tsitsipas dropped his head in the final set, looking dispirited and defeated, the 17-time major winner said his opponent had what it takes to return to the last four of a major – and more.

“He has everything to make that happen – good serve, good shot from the baseline, he is brave, he goes to the net often,” he said.

“He has everything to become a multi grand slam champion, when at that age he is in the semi-finals that says a lot of good things about him.

“I hope to face him in important rounds in the next couple of years.”

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