Tennis

Nadal makes last four without dropping a set

Second seed sees off 21-year-old Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 at Melbourne Park

Rafael Nadal kept the flag flying for the old guard at the Australian Open yesterday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over American Frances Tiafoe for a place in the semi-finals, where he will meet another next generation player in Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal's match against Tiafoe, who turned 21 on Sunday, was billed as an intriguing clash of generations after the loss of Roger Federer to Tsitsipas earlier, but the second seed was ruthless as he reached the last four without dropping a set.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion broke Tiafoe's first service game in each set, and with a second break in the third set, wrapped up the victory in an hour and 47 minutes.

Nadal was forced to retire hurt in the fifth set of last year's quarter-final against eventual finalist Marin Cilic, eight years after pulling out midway through his last-eight clash against Andy Murray with a knee injury.

"It's very emotional for me to be back in the semi-final in Melbourne," Nadal said on court.

"I had some troubles in this event all my career.

"To be back to the semi-final without playing for a while means everything to me.

"So, I just want to say thank you very, very much everybody. Great feelings, to be able to play in this court is always so special.

"Of course, I'm very happy with the way I played tonight."

Doubts about his ability to withstand seven matches on hard courts were reinforced when he retired in the US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro last year.

His season also ended early with ankle surgery and an abdominal injury.

Despite that, Nadal is leaving no stone unturned in Melbourne to win another Major and has brought a remodelled serve aimed at generating more pace, which once again worked effectively yesterday.

In yesterday's other quarter-final, 20-year-old Greek sensation Tsitsipas swept into the semi-finals with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) win over Roberto Bautista Agut.- REUTERS

Tennis