All of a sudden, Rafael Nadal is now the favourite to advance to the final of the Australian Open from his half of the draw. The Spaniard has been in good form in the opening week of the event while Roger Federer’s shock exit takes his biggest rival out of the equation. Nadal plays Frances Tiafoe for a spot in the semi-finals, where either Roberto Bautista Agut or Stefanos Tsitsipas await. Check out the Nadal vs Tiafoe stats.
Tomas Berdych’s recent revival was cut short in some style by Nadal, who tore the Czech apart in the opening two sets of his 6-0 6-1 7-6 victory. Nadal played down the impact of his new service motion despite putting up good figures once again. Berdych would only get two break chances and be denied on both occasions, including on set point in the third. “We changed few things, but nothing drastic, nothing dramatic. Good thing I had some time to work with it. I am happy, more or less, how the serve is working during the first official event that I am playing.” he said.
Tiafoe has gained a lot of fans this week with his personality and on-court play. The American plays a strong attacking game and has been rewarded this week with a spot in the quarter finals. He backed up his second round win over Kevin Anderson with a win over a former top 10 player in Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-6 6-7 7-5. He needed good fortune at times, most notably in the second set when Dimitrov double faulted on his third set point. However, he seized his own opportunities when they came his way to make it a very happy 21st birthday.
“When you have younger players coming, they have always more attention to everyone.” Nadal said on his opponent. “He has everything. He’s quick. He serve well. Very quick forehand. He’s a very dynamic player, aggressive one. Of course, he’s dangerous. It’s going to be a tough one.”
Tiafoe picked up his third career top 10 win against Anderson and will be seeking another on Tuesday. He may not get it but there’s no doubt that he won’t falter under the pressure on a big court after this past week.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in four sets