Rafael Nadal rolled into his 11th Australian Open quarterfinal, beating longtime foe Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 in fourth round play on Monday. Nadal, who now leads the Czech 20-4, had to save a set point serving 5-6 in the third, but otherwise was in command.
He had one of these days where he wasn’t on his game,” Nadal said.
In three matches Nadal has yet to drop a set whereas his next opponent has been working overtime, and that’s Frances Tiafoe.
Celebrating his 21st birthday, Tiafoe won the bigger points in a tight 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 7-5 to advance to his first career Slam quarterfinal.
“This is crazy,” Tiafoe said. “My phone is blowing up. I can barely use it.
“It’s just what you dream about. I told my coach, Zack Evenden, my agent, Alex, 2019 I’m going to pop off. No reason why I can’t do these things. I didn’t think it was going to happen right away. This is unbelievable.”
Dimitrov finished blowing a ton of opportunities – he was just 3/18 on break chances – while Tiafoe took advantage of a very strong net game.
After exhausting wins over Andreas Seppi and today Dimitrov, Tiafoe will have to face a fresh Nadal on Tuesday in his first meeting with the Spaniard.
“I’m so excited to play Rafa,” the American added. “We’re going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies. I hope I can play on Laver. That would be cool. I guess all the matches are on Laver now, right?”
Right Tiafoe is.
Speaking of long match, Roberto Bautista Agut and Marin Cilic also went the distance. The two marathon men fittingly played to a fifth with the Bautista Agut coming through 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in 3 hours, 58 minutes.
“It was a great tournament,” Bautista Agut said. “I’ve been playing very good tennis. I won a really good matches. I had to fight so hard to stay very focus. It’s been a great month for me and for my tennis.”
The win put Bautista Agut into his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal after nine previous failed attempts.
Menawhile, Roger Federer was stunned in the upset of the event so far, falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 45 minutes.
The two who had never met in an official match, picked right where they left off in a Hopman Exo match where they played two, break-free tiebreak sets. And it was the same this evening. Except Tstipas was undaunted and shook off two break points and a time violation in the opening game.
Federer managed to grab the opening set in a break, then failed on 8 break chances in the second, which let the 20-year-old back in the match.
Federer again had chances in the third, but the forehand continued to misfire while Tsitsipas came up with the goods time and time again, especially at the net.
In the fourth, it was another breaker and one Federer, 17 years older than his foe, could not convert.
“I’m the happiest man on earth right now,” said Tsitsipas.
“Roger is a legend of our sport, so much respect for him. He showed such good tennis over the years. I’ve been analysing him since the age of six, and it was a dream come true for me just being on Rod Laver Arena facing him. Winning at the end, I cannot describe it.”
Federer has now failed to make the semifinals at the last four Grand Slams. He finished 0/12 on break chances and committed 41 unforced errors off the forehand.
“I have massive regrets tonight,” Federer said.
“I felt like I have to win the second set,” he said “I don’t care how I do it, but I have to do it. Cost me the game tonight.
“There are always multiple factors that play into a match like this. But it definitely didn’t go the way I was hoping on the break points. I also didn’t break him at the Hopman Cup, so clearly something is wrong how I return him, what I’m trying to do. He’s doing a good job to defend them.
“I lost to a better player who was playing very well tonight – hung in there, gave himself chances at some point, stayed calm. It’s not always easy, especially for younger guys. Credit to him for taking care of that.”
On Monday, Novak Djokovic returns to take on youngester Daniil Medvedev. Kei Nishikori tries to keep his roll going against former US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta and Alexander Zverev bids for his second Slam quarterfinal against former Australian Open semifinalist Milos Raonic.
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