Tennis

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Rafael Nadal hits no-look winner off Frances Tiafoe's serve during Australian Open quarter-final

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Rafael Nadal won his way through to a 30th Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday after a comprehensive straight-sets victory against American youngster Frances Tiafoe.

It was a case of the master playing the apprentice at Rod Laver Arena as the Spaniard showed he was a man on a mission, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2 and booking a date with another youngster in 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday.

The 20-year-old Tiafoe has had a breakthrough tournament, reaching the second week of a grand slam for the first time in his career, beating his previous best of making it to the third round at Wimbledon last year.

He had defeated seeded players Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov and wily veteran Andreas Seppi on his way to his first ever clash with Nadal.

The charismatic youngster would have taken a fair bit of heart by seeing Greek starlet Tsitsipas show no fear in defeating Roger Federer in the fourth round.

However, it is one thing visualising success and it is another thing doing it, and Nadal showed from the get-go that he was not interested in falling in the same fashion as his great rival.

Nadal is still yet to lose a set in five matches and his confidence is approaching its optimum level as this superb no look slice return shows.

You know Nadal is feeling good about his game if he doesn't even need to look at the ball when he is hitting it.

In terms of Grand Slams in the career of the legendary Spaniard, the Australian Open is actually his least successful.

His lone title came in 2009 in an epic five-setter against Federer but since then it has either been a case of bad luck through injury, or falling just short at the final hurdle as he did in 2012 vs Novak Djokovic, 2014 vs Stan Wawrinka, and 2017 vs Federer.

Last year, Nadal had to withdraw through injury against Marin Cilic during the fifth set of their quarter-final clash.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

Nadal came into this year's Open once again under an injury cloud, having withdrawn from one of the main lead-up tournaments in Brisbane.

But he has allayed any fears so far and is only two wins away from Grand Slam number 18.

While he has two big challenges ahead, the way he is playing and moving around the court, you would be a brave person to bet against him.

Topics:
Australian Open
Rafael Nadal
Tennis

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