The Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Australia–Rafael Nadal certainly is not treating tennis’ next generation well at the Australian Open.
Add 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas to the list of youngsters Nadal has bullied on his way to his fifth final at Melbourne Park and 25th at all Grand Slam tournaments.
Nadal needed all of 11 minutes today to show Tsitsipas–and everyone else–that the kid’s upset of Roger Federer was not going to be replicated on this night.
Not even close. Breaking Tsitispas in the match’s third game and then another five times, while never facing a single break point himself until the very last game, Nadal won 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.
“It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely,” said the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas, a blank expression on his face.
“He [Nadal] gives you no rhythm,” he added. “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,” Tsitispas added. “I’ve never seen a player have this.
“He makes you play bad.”
It was the same straight-set, no-contest treatment Nadal gave to 19-year-old Alex de Minaur in the third round and then 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals.
Asked if he was trying to make a statement with the way he soundly defeated these up-and-coming talents, Nadal replied, “They don’t need any message, no. They are good. They’re improving every month.
“So it’s always a big challenge to play against them.”
Sure hasn’t seemed like it.
Tsitsipas’ run to the first major semi-final of his nascent career was most notable for the way he beat 20-time major champion Federer in the fourth round, saving 12 of 12 break points across four sets and three hours, 45 minutes.
But the left-handed Nadal was a much more difficult puzzle to solve.
On Sunday, the 32-year-old Spaniard will try to earn his second Australian Open title–he won the hard-court event in 2009–and his 18th Slam trophy.
That final will come against either top-seeded Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille, who meet tomorrow.
Pouille ousted Canadian Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals.
On the women’s side, U.S. Open champ Naomi Osaka has reached back-to-back major finals with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Karolina Pliskova.
The 21-year-old Osaka will play another Czech–two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova–for the Australian title on Saturday.
The fourth-seeded Osaka is aiming to be the first woman since Serena Williams to win consecutive major titles.