A flawless Rafael Nadal has totally dismantled inexperienced Stefanos Tsitsipas to book his place in the 2019 Australian Open men’s singles final.
The Spanish second seed claimed an emphatic 6-2 6-4 6-0 semi final victory in one hour, 46 minutes to leave the Rod Laver Arena crowd in awe.
Nadal will get a chance to add a second Australian Open title to his resume and an 18th grand slam title overall when he steps on to the big stage on Sunday night.
The 32-year-old will go into the final in red hot form.
“Have been playing well during the whole event,'” Nadal said. “Every match more or less I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one.”
Nadal dusted off his full bag of tricks to dominate the match from the outset.
At no point could Tsitsipas target a weakness because there was none in the Nadal game.
Nadal was the conductor and Tsitsipas was just going along for the ride.
Tsitsipas admitted that he was powerless to stop the momentum of Nadal.
“He gives you no rhythm,” Tsitsipas said. “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. He makes you play bad.”
Tsitsipas tried to overpower Nadal from the baseline early in the match, but he found the ball coming back past him twice as hard.
He then tried to draw Nadal to the net, but the Spaniard tracked every ball down as if he was the energetic youngster.
When Tsitsipas came to the net, a tactic that had worked well for him in the lead up to the semi final, including a victory over Roger Federer, Nadal would cheekily loop a ball over his head with success.
Even when Tsitsipas produced a ripping wide shot, Nadal would somehow chase it down and just curl the ball around the net.
Tsitsipas was disconsolate after a match that he only picked up six games and copped a bagel in the third set.
“Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match,” the Greek player said. “It’s not that I was even close to get to something. I only got six games from that match.”
On the other side of the net, Nadal was in his rhythm the whole time, displaying all his best attributes.
“Playing solid with my serve, playing aggressive,” Nadal said. “Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days. That’s important for me, too, because the forehand was working fantastic during the whole week, week and a half, but the backhand was improving during the tournament.
“Tonight was even better than the previous rounds. Returning better. So in general terms of course I have to be very happy about the way that I played.”
It has been 10 years since Nadal last won the Australian Open.
With form like he displayed against Tsitsipas, you have to wonder how it has been a decade between drinks.
Tsitsipas was surprised too – wondering out loud how Federer managed to beat Nadal so many times on the hard courts of Melbourne.
“I’m just trying to think how Federer beat him so [often],” Tsitsipas said. “Similar game style like me. I’m trying to understand. I mean, I don’t want to lose to Rafa 10 times.”
Nadal will face the winner of the other semi final between top seed Novak Djokovic and French surprise packet Lucas Pouille.
Djokovic and Pouille will face off tomorrow night at Rod Laver Arena.