Rafael Nadal slammed the door shut on the future when he emphatically ended the run of Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open and silenced his hordes of new fans.
The 32-year-old Spaniard gave his challenger an object lesson in the standards he needs to reach with a brilliant, relentless performance in their semi-final that saw him win 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in just an hour and 46 minutes.
Nadal was utterly unforgiving from the off, and was left awaiting the winner of Friday’s second semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Frenchman Lucas Pouille in what will be his fifth Australian final
has been a remarkable performance from Nadal at this event so far, especially as he came in not having played an official event since the US Open due to various ailments, including stomach strains as well as his knees.
This turned out to be something of a schooling.
Nadal is into his fifth Australian Open final and is yet to drop a set in this year’s Slam ‘It feels good.
To start the season like this when a few weeks ago in Brisbane having to take a tough decision not to play there, in that moment I would not have thought I would be here today.’
NADAL’S RUN TO THE FINAL IN MELBOURNE
First Round: bt James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 (2hr 15mins)
Second Round: bt Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 (1hr 56mins)
Third Round: bt Alex de Minaur 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 (2hr 22mins)
Fourth Round: bt Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (2hr 5mins)
Quarter-finals: bt Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 (1hr 47mins)
Semi-finals: bt Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 (1hr 46mins)
He denied he was trying to lay down a marker to the younger generation that he has been cuffing this fortnight.
‘They don’t need any message, they are good and they are improving so it’s always a big challenge to play against them.
‘There is a young, good new generation coming. I wish all of them a very successful career.’
He had particularly warm words for Tsitsipas: ‘He has everything to make that happen, good serve, good shots from the baseline, he has everything to become a multi Grand Slam champion.
‘I hope to face him in important rounds the next couple of years.’