The first Australian Open men’s semi-final matchup will be between one of the old guard and one of the top young stars who is hoping to replace him. 17 time slam champion and 24 time finalist Rafael Nadal plays Stefanos Tsitsipas, who hopes to make his first final. The 20 year-old Greek had made just one fourth round before this run, which will see him move to at least No.12 next week. Check out the Nadal vs Tsitsipas H2H stats.
Tsitipas’ legion of fans grew strong with another impressive victory, this time beating Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets. After the excitement of defeating Federer, he could have been forgiven for faltering once the Spaniard went a break up in set three. However, he struck by to win the final four games of that set before winning a tiebreak to close the match out 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6. “I realised recently, your opponent feels the exact same thing you feel. It’s a pretty balanced match. The difference is who is going to press more and be more aggressive than the other.” Tsitsipas opined afterwards. “But I did surprise a little bit myself with my performance, yeah.”
Nadal saw off one of Tsitsipas’ fellow Next Gen Finals competitors in the previous round, easing past Frances Tiafoe for a spot in the last four. Tiafoe could not add to the great story of his fortnight and was outclassed by Nadal, who didn’t drop serve in the 6-3 6-4 6-2 win. The new serve continues to work well but Nadal’s whole game is firing right now while his pre-tournament injury issues look to have subsided. “I came here with the positive feelings I have done a lot of things well before the tournament start. Then you have to compete, you have to win matches, because after a while without competing is always a challenge.” he said afterwards. “But I really did a lot of things well during the whole week. For me, yeah, so special to be back where I am today. Means that I started the season in a good way again, and that’s very positive for me.”
Nadal and Tsitsipas have already played twice with both matches coming last year. Nadal was a straight sets winner in both the Barcelona and Canada Masters final although the latter was a much closer affair. That isn’t putting the young Greek off fancying his chances though. “It’s going to be interesting. I feel all right with my game. I feel like I can do something good against him.” he said.
Prediction – Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets