Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nadal beats Tsitsipas for fifth Australian Open final

Nadal beats Tsitsipas for fifth Australian Open final
Nadal beats Tsitsipas for fifth Australian Open final

Rafael Nadal beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Australian open final.

Coming into the match, it seemed like Tsitsipas would give Nadal a challenge. In the round of 16, Tsitsipas came back from a set down to beat Roger Federer. But Nadal looked masterful throughout. In the final set, Tsitsipas didn’t win a single game.

Nadal is 32, and is doing his part to rebuff the narrative that younger tennis players — the next generation of stars — is ready to take over. Three of Nadal’s last four Australian Open opponents have been young. He beat 19-year-old Alex de Minaur in the round of 32. He beat 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinal. And Tsitsipas, Nadal’s most recent vanquished foe, is just 20.

Nadal didn’t have the best 2018. He managed a few key victories, but he was beset by knee, hip, ankle and abdominal injuries. His 2019 is starting off on the right foot, though. He’s yet to drop a single set at the tournament, and he’s just one win away from being the Australian Open men’s champion. And it means a lot to him — he got emotional when he entered the walk of champions.

“It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely,” said the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas, a blank expression on his face. “He gives you no rhythm. He plays just a different game style than the rest of the players. He has this, I don’t know, talent that no other player has. I’ve never seen a player have this. He makes you play bad.”

“I’m really disappointed today,” Tsitsipas said, adding that he hoped to “prove myself a little bit more, not let him dominate the entire match. Just felt wrong.”

Rafa will play the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Lucas Pouille.