Rafael Nadal storms into semi-final with dominant win over Tiafoe - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal storms into semi-final with dominant win over Tiafoe

Rafael Nadal progressed to his fifth Australian Open semi-final with a comprehensive win over rising star Frances Tiafoe.

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Rafael Nadal at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Rafael Nadal produced an impressive performance to see off Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 6-2 and advance to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the fifth time.

 

The emphatic scoreline means that the Spaniard, 32, is still yet to drop a set in the event this year. And it sets him up perfectly to push on and try and claim his second title in Melbourne.

It was a disappointing end to the American’s run. However, he can be justifiably proud of his efforts, especially during his wins over Kevin Anderson and Gregor Dimitrov, and it was clear to see today that his previous matches had taken a lot out of him.

Nadal raced through his opening service game to win it to love. He then immediately attacked Tiafoe’s serve and gained an immediate break.

That was all the Spaniard needed. He dominated on serve throughout the set and won 20 of the 23 points behind it, which enabled him to wrap it up 6-3 in just 31 minutes.

Tiafoe fights hard in the second set

The American made the worst possible start to the second set. He played a poor game on serve and lost it to love.

To his credit, Tiafoe responded well and fought for everything in the next few games. He earned his first break point of the match in game four after he won a 20-shot rally. However, he sent his next return just long.

The American then got another chance immediately when Nadal pulled a forehand wide. But again Tiafoe was unable to take advantage as he hit a backhand long.

Those turned out to be Tiafoe’s only opportunities in the set, as the World No.2 eventually held after three more deuces and went on to take it 6-4 without facing any more alarms on his serve.

Nadal ends Tiafoe’s challenge with early break

When Nadal broke the American in the opening of the third set, as he had done in the first two sets, the match already seemed as good as over.

Tiafoe hung in for a few more games to keep it to one break. However, his resistance ended when he made some tired errors and dropped his serve in game seven.

Fittingly, Nadal closed out the match with another commanding game on serve, which included a trademark forehand winner down the line.

“For me it’s very emotional to be back in the semi-finals here in Melbourne,” Nadal said in his post-match interview. “I’ve had some dramas at this event during my career so to be back in the semi-final after a while means everything to me.”

The Spaniard continued, “I feel lucky to be where I am after all the things that have happened. To keep competing at this level is why I wake up every morning to go on court or go to the gym with the goal to be a better player.”

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Fabio Fognini wins epic five-set match against Jordan Thompson

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Fabio Fognini battled past local favourite Jordan Thompson 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 in an epic five set match to score his five-set win at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.

 

The first set went on serve in the first five games. Fognini earned the first game in the sixth game, but Thompson broke back to draw level to 4-4. Fognini won the tie-break 7-4 after saving two set points in the 10th game.

Fognini earned an early break in the second game of the second set with a forehand passing shot. The Italian star went up a double break at 15 to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the second set 6-1 on his second set point.

Thompson saved two break points in the first game of the third set before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. The Australian player saved a break point at deuce in the ninth game and held his serve to win the third set 6-3.

Both players went on serve with no break points in the first four games of the fourth set. Thompson converted his only break point in the fifth game and held his serve at 15 to open up a 4-2 lead. The home player did not look back in the next games to win the fourth set 6-4 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Fognini started the fifth set with a hold at love. The fifth set went on serve with no break points until the eighth game when Fognini earned the first break point of the set, but Thompson saved it at deuce to draw level to 4-4. Fognini earned his first match point at 5-4 with a forehand down the line. Thompson saved it with a big ace down the middle.

Thompson fended off another match point with a forehand down the line before holding serve after five deuces to draw level to 5-5. Fognini earned two consecutive match points, but Thompson saved them to force a super tie-break. Thompson made a forehand error at 1-1, but Fognini  double faulted. Fognini took a 7-3 lead after two unforced errors from Thomson. Fognini sealed the fifth set 10-4 with a backhand down the line after 4 hours and 5 minutes. Fognini will face Argentina’s Guido Pella.

“It was a good fight. It was amazing. It’s perfect. I feel good. I am tired for sure. I was two sets to zero in front. He was playing better, he was serving unbelievable. I had 75 match points, and it is more sweat, because it is tood easy winning in three sets”, joked Fognini.

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Marin Cilic takes the Match tie-break to beat Benoit Paire in Melbourne

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Marin Cilic battled past Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3) in the match tie-break after 3 hours and 33 minutes in windy conditions to advance to the third round at the Australian Open. Paire won 82 % of his first serve points, but he made 51 unforced errors.

 

Cilic broke three times in a row to seal the opening set 6-2. Paire rallied from 3-5 down to win the tie-break 10-8. Paire earned a break of serve at deuce in the eighth game to win the third set 6-3. Cilic broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the fourth set 6-1.

Each player saved a break point in the fifth set, but they held on their service games en route to reaching the the match tie-break, where Cilic sealed the win 10-3.

Cilic booked his spot in the third-round, where he will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who came back from one set down to beat Michael Mmoh 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1 after 2 hours and 44 minutes. The match was moved to the Melbourne Arena after it was interrupted by rain, when Mmoh was leading 2-1 in the fourth set.

Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the third round, when Phillip Kohlschreiber pulled out of the match due to a muscle injury. Tsitsipas set up a third round match against Milos Raonic, who converted each of his four break points to beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics beat last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 16 minutes. Fucsovics earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Sinner broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, but Fucsovics earned another break in the next game to take the opening set 6-4. Fucsovics went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Sinner broke straight back. Sinner dropped his serve at love in the seventh game to lose the second set 6-4. Sinner went up a 2-0 lead with an early break. Fucsovics broke straight back in the third game to claw his way back to 1-2. Fucsovics broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and sealed the win in the ninth game on his first match point.

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Tennys Sandgren battles past Matteo Berrettini in five sets to reach the third round at the Australian Open

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Tennys Sandgren stunned number 8 seed and 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 4-6 2-6 7-5 to reach the third round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Tennessee player achieved the best result of his career two years ago, when he beat two top 10 players to reach the quarter final at the 2017 Australian Open.

 

Both players held on their service games throughout the first set en route to the tie-break. Sandgren saved a set point at 5-6 with a forehand. The US player earned a set point at 7-6, but Berrettini fended it off with a big forehand. Sandgren got the tie-break after an error from Berrettini at 7-7.

Sandgren went up a break at 2-2 and held on his service games to seal the second set 6-4 earning a two-set lead. Berrettini forced an error from Sandgren at 5-4 to earn the break and seal the third set.

Berrettini went up a double break to win the fourth set 6-2 forcing the match to the decisive set. The Italian player earned three break points, when Sandgren was serving at 3-4. The US player saved them to hold serve. Sandgren broke serve at 5-5, when Berrettini sent a forehand into the net and sealed the win with a strong first serve.

“It’s a top 10 win at a Slam, so it’s up there for sure. I was injured for most of the Fall. I tore a ligament and got a stress fracture in my toe. After the US Open I played one week in Asia and then I was done. I had five to six weeks where I did not have any points to defend and could have pushed higher in the rankings but I could not play. I felt I played in spurts last year. I had some good weeks at Slams. I like these tournaments a lot. Sometimes you can get lost a little bit when you are playing 30 or 35 weeks a year. I feel my game comes together in these weeks”, said Sandgren.

Sandgren set up a third round match against his compatriot Sam Querrey, who edged past Ricardas Berankis 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-4 6-4. Querrey hit 26 aces and won 87 % of his first serve points. Querrey reached the quarter final at Wimbledon and the semifinal in Eastbourne.

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