Rafael Nadal rolled through the Australian Open quarterfinals, bouncing American Frances Tiafoe in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 cakewalk to set up a semifinals showdown with 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nadal is in the semifinals without dropping a single set at the Australian Open, a repeat of the same feat in 2009, when he claimed the Grand Slam title. This is the 32-year-old’s 30th Grand Slam semifinal appearance; Tsitsispas, who beat Roger Federer and No. 22 Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain), advanced Tuesday with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) win.
“I knew that win against Federer was important, played a huge role in my image — like, who I am,” said Tsitsipas, the first Greek player to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam. “But I knew that the biggest challenge was today’s match, that I can prove myself once again.”
Nadal will have to contend with Tsitsipas’ youth and hordes of Greek fans who jammed Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.
“It all feels like a fairy tale, almost. I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for,” said Tsitsipas. “I mean, I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I worked hard to get here.”
Nadal has been here before — on the Australian Open stage and up against Tsitsipas in a big moment.
In August 2018, Nadal beat the Greek phenom in Toronto, spoiling Tsitsipas’ 20th birthday — 6-2, 7-6 (4) — to take the Rogers Cup.
In defeat, Tsitsipas offered a glimpse into his mindset facing Nadal.
“He was normal like all of us and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today,” Tsitsipas said following that loss. “It’s true … that’s how you feel when you play against him. I need to work much more and hopefully I can reach his level one day.”