Rafael Nadal Defeats Frances Tiafoe, Advances to 2019 Australian Open Semis

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2019

Spain's Rafael Nadal hits a return against Frances Tiafoe of the US during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 22, 2019. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --        (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
WILLIAM WEST/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal continued his campaign to win a second Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 quarter-final defeat of Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday.

It was a brutally clinical performance from the 17-time Grand Slam champion as he saw off the unseeded American in one hour, 47 minutes.

Nadal's serve was particularly devastating on the Rod Laver Arena court as he gave Tiafoe few chances to get back in each set after breaking early on.

In the semi-finals, the Spaniard will meet Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Roger Federer on Sunday in the round of 16 before eliminating Nadal's compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets on Tuesday. 

Spain's Rafael Nadal (L) embraces Frances Tiafoe of the US during their men's singles quarter-final match on day nine of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 22, 2019. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL
DAVID GRAY/Getty Images

Nadal came into the 2019 Australian Open with a new serving action, and he used it to great effect on Tuesday.

He held the opening game of the match in barely a minute, hitting two aces in the process, and then broke for a 2-0 lead with three signature forehand blows.

The 21-year-old Tiafoe has proved his immense talent and resilience during his impressive run in Melbourne.

But after the early break, Nadal gave Tiafoe no chance of getting back on level terms by winning 20 of 23 points on his serve and 15 of 15 behind his first serve:

It took until the fourth game of the second set for Tiafoe to win a point on Nadal's first serveat the 20th attemptand he was already a break down by then.

It coincided with Tiafoe's best receiving game of the match and saw him earn two break points, the first after a brilliantly controlled overhead.

But Nadal's power and accuracy saw him hold for a 3-1 lead, and it was again simply a matter of him serving out the rest of the set.

If Tiafoe was to have any chance of avoiding a straight-sets defeat, he had to hold his opening service game in the third. However, Nadal was just too good, setting up two break points with a magical touch at the end of a 16-shot rally:

And at the second attempt, Nadal sealed the crucial early advantage again as his opponent netted.

The Spaniard served at 86 per cent in the third set to give Tiafoe almost no chance of breaking back, and he secured the double break for a 5-2 lead.

As if to prove once again just how effective his new serve is, he then opened up a 30-0 lead with two aces before sealing the match. 

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