Tennis

Ruthless Nadal stuns Tsitsipas and himself

Spanish second seed didn't expect to play so well; he hasn't lost a set yet

Rafael Nadal said he has surprised himself with his outstanding level of tennis at this year's Australian Open after crushing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final yesterday.

The Spanish world No. 2 handed the rising star a ruthless tennis lesson 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in just 106 minutes.

Greek 14th seed Tsitsipas had enjoyed a fairytale run to his first Grand Slam last four, including a win over Roger Federer, but found Nadal in ruthless form in the Spaniard's first tournament since the US Open in September.

"Is not easy to be back after four months, five months, and play the way I am playing," he said after undergoing ankle surgery in his extended off-season.

"Of course, I didn't expect that at all," Nadal told reporters after setting up a final on Sunday against either top seed Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille.

"I believe that when you are older, you lose less the tennis when you are playing less.

"You don't need that many matches to play well. That's something that happened for the last two years for me."

The Spanish second seed has not dropped his serve for an astonishing 63 straight games and has not lost a set.

"I played well, of course. Have been playing well during the whole event. Every match more or less I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one," he said after a display of almost perfect tennis.

Tsitsipas, 20, had been hailed as a new young Greek god of tennis after beating Federer, but his ascent to the summit of his personal Olympus was comprehensively halted by the colossus called Nadal.

"I have no idea what I can take from that match," said a despondent Tsitsipas. "I wasn't even close to getting something. I only got six games.

"He gives you no rhythm. 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. I've never seen a player have this." - AFP

Tennis