World no. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain has defeated ATP NextGen star Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-2 6-4 6-0 to book a spot in the Australian Open final. It is Nadal’s fifth final in Melbourne, but he hasn’t won the final since his first in 2009.
Tsitsipas upset 6-time Australian Open champion and 2-time defending champion, Roger Federer in the fourth round, and was hoping to now upset Nadal, but the combined 15 hours spent on court to reach the last four caught up with Tsitsipas, as his energy levels weren’t up to standard.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 24: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand in his Men’s Singles Semi Final match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during day 11 of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)
Nadal first broke when he forced an error from Tsitsipas with a backhand down the line to lead 2-1. Nadal then broke again in the seventh game when two consecutive double faults by the Greek lead to another break point for Nadal. Nadal then served for the set, winning it when he forced an error off Tsitsipas’ backhand.
Nadal had a triple break point in the fifth game of the second set that was brought up by a ball off the Spaniard’s racquet that clipped the net to passed Tsitsipas who was in position to volley. But Tsitsipas was able to fight back from 0-40 down to hold his serve and lead 3-2.
Nadal managed to break in the ninth game to have a 5-4 lead, allowing him to once again serve out the set. He got three set points when Tsitsipas hit a backhand down the line too long. A could serve by Nadal that Tsitsipas couldn’t successfully return gave the Spaniard the set.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 24: Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece plays a backhand in his Men’s Semi Final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain during day 11 of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
In the third set, Nadal didn’t let Tsitsipas get a single game. The Greek showed signs of frustrations after he hit an easy shot long, taking the score to 15-15 when he was down a double break at 3-0 by smacking a ball that went flying into the crowd. He was handed a warning for doing this, but the release of anger did not help him as he had his serve broken again by the Spaniard.
Nadal served for his place in the final, but he sent two easy volleys into the net, giving Tsitsipas his first break point of the match at 30-40. Nadal was not letting his opportunity to close out the match slip away and he won the next three points to take the win.
Nadal will face either six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Lucas Pouille for a chance to lift the trophy again after 10 years. The world No.1 and Frenchman meet in the second semifinal on Friday night.