Rafael Nadal v Stefanos Tsitsipas In Australian Open SF #1, Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | January 23rd, 2019, 11:33 pm
  • 81 Comments

The first Australian Open men’s semifinal takes place later tonight Melbourne time (or in the wee hours of the morning depending where you are) with Rafael Nadal taking on the Greek upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas.

This was supposed to be the Nadal-Roger Federer semifinal, but you can thank Tsitsipas for taking care of that. Instead, we get Nadal against maybe the next Federer? I don’t know and we won’t know for years if that’s how it will pan out, but the young Tsitsipas is legitimately a player who will contend for many, many slams down to road.

Tsitsipas possesses a big game with big attributes all around. Big serve, big forehand, big backhand and something he has over some of his peers, a big frame.

Whereas an Alexander Zverev or Daniil Medvedev are slight or thin, Tsitsipas is thick and broad, and I think that’s going to really help him (same for Karen Khachanov).

As for tonight…

Rafael Nadal v Stefanos Tsitsipas
This is the third time these two have met in the last 10 months, Rafa has won all four sets beating Tsitsipas in the Barcelona final and the Canadian Open final. No surprise Nadal crushed him on clay in Spain, but Tsitsipas made a second set run in Toronto and I expect something similar tonight.

I do not expect a one-sided affair. Few probably do, though. (So maybe that’s what we’ll get?)

Like with Federer who Tsitsipas faced at Hopman cup, the kid knows what to expect from Rafa. He’s seen the pace off the ground, and lefty serve.

And with his improved offensive and defensive skills off the ground, Stefanos should be able to stay with Rafa longer in points. But I just don’t think long enough.

Federer’s forehand was a mess against Tsitsipas. Roberto Bautista Agut hits a much flatter shot, and was connecting, but the kid just had too much firepower, fight and moxy for RBA, and I don’t think RBA had the belief to close him out.

That said, I expect Nadal to do a lot better off the ground against Tsitsipas than either Federer or RBA. Nadal is going to use the Federer playbook and attack the 1-handed side of Tsitsipas, and make the kid move, make him feel the pressure.

I also think Rafa’s improved serve is a growing asset. Tsitsipas doesn’t have a great return game and that’s an area Rafa will take advantage. Big first serve, big forehand and Rafa’s immediately in control.

And the big thing tonight is you have to win three sets off Rafa and not just two. And I just think that’s too great an ask.

Rafa hasn’t lost a set all week, I feel like tonight that changes. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas has only played 4-set matches all tournament. That trend continues except he’s on the wrong end of the score.
The Pick: Nadal in 4

Even if Tsitsipas does not win tonight, I think he’ll get Rafa sometime this year. Tsitsipas already has wins over Djokovic and Federer and that’s no fluke, so he’ll get Rafa soon enough. His game is big enough, he likes to attack and play at the net, and he seems to be right in the head and has that special fighting quality, unlike a Zverev. So as he improves his serve (especially second serve) and movement, he’ll keep piling up big wins.


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81 Comments for Rafael Nadal v Stefanos Tsitsipas In Australian Open SF #1, Who’s The Pick?

Andy Mira Says:

Agree with most of what Sean says…Tsitsi has a style similar to Fed,i think Rafa will exploit the weakness of that BH to the fullest…and considering that they both only met twice(and twice Rafa won)…and no matter how high the confidence Tsitsi has atm,and how much he improved since the last time they met…i don’t think Tsitsi has the ability to ‘solve’ Rafa yet…

Rafa will be super aggressive again today…I expect a littered of DTL winner to finish the point quickly…Also will use his new lefty serves effectively to drag Tsitsi wide & make a free point from that…Insyaallah Rafa in 3 or 4….Vamos Rafa!!…Wooohoooo!!


Gregoire Gentil Says:

Let’s do the if game. If Federer had close that second set at 5-4 against Tsitsipas, it’s not too much science fiction to say that we would have got a Federer/Nadal semi-final. Sean, what would have been your pick?!?


chofer Says:

It’s 5:36 AM here. Why I’m awake not being a partisan of either Rafa or Stefanos? Because, for the first time in like has been years and years, I stayed awake to watch the women’s SF. Why?
Women’s tennis needed Petra back at his best. Tennis will need Osaka like water in the desert. Both are in the Final. The Stadium was full for both. No clears like in other matches. People are not stupid. Aussies know tennis. You will if you miss that final. I hope both have banner years. I like the other girls. But these two are something else when playing well. Something else.
Serena? I’ve been seeing her since she was 15. I’m a little tired and, frankly, she’s nowhere near her best.

About the Rafa-Tsi-Tsi-Fly match, yeah, Agree Rafa is super favourite. Don’t be surprised if the Greek gets a Slam this year or early next. I’m pretty sure he’s mentally light years ahead of Zverev. Plus, I like his tennis better. Bring it on.


chofer Says:

First point of the match: Tsitsi serve and volley. This kid has some balls, regardless of outcome.


chofer Says:

Rafa with early break, forcing the issue with his… backhand. It’s incredible how he has flatten that shot. He never gets the ball short off that side.


chofer Says:

Ruthless Rafa. Providing Nole qualifies for the F (I think he will) another Wimby-like barburner it’s entirely possible.
This time, I see Rafa’s getting it.

Tsitsi coming up with aces. He’ll need it.


chofer Says:

Tsitsi double faulted twice on 40-30, 2-4. Pressured by the intensity of Rafa. He’s taking the first set rather easily. I don’t think I’ve ever seen playing him this good, quick and aggressive on hardcourts since his last Us Open win agains Nole.


chofer Says:

6-2 in 30 minutes. Don’t bother to see the winner’s stats.


chofer Says:

100% points won on first serve. Animal.


Andy Mira Says:

Chofer…Agree!…Very possible another Wimby 2.0…xcept this time-a different Rafa equipped with different tools that maybe can bring a different outcome…Insyaallah!


FedExpress Says:

Tsitsipas useless and bending over as expected.


chofer Says:

I don’t think Roger would have provided greater opposition against THIS Rafa.

FedExpress, you are terminally optimist, as usual.


chofer Says:

Andy

Sure. By the playing alone, Rafa should be the candidate. But Nole has a way of getting on his mind… we’ll see.


FedExpress Says:

Fed has still the mental advantage of beating Nadal in the last 5 meetings.


chofer Says:

Rafa with his firsts UFEs errors in 40 minutes. He’s human, too.


chofer Says:

We’ll never know in this tournament Fed, won’t we?


Van Persie Says:

Mats did say before the match, that one handed BH has not much of chance against Rafa? Totally agree, especially not against THIS Rafa, and Tsitsi makes mistkes nd is even slower today.
Should Nole make it to the final, there will be another match. Qith Nole fit ans healthy of course.


Van Persie Says:

With Nole, not Qith


chofer Says:

Are you nervous, VP? :)-


Van Persie Says:

Not as I used to be in the past, when Nole had to face Rafa:)

I am surprissd some had expectations from Tsitsi today lol


chofer Says:

The kid is the best volleyer among the next genners. By far. The thing is how to hit the right approach against Rafa. Not easy.


FedExpress Says:

Hats off to Tsi for that game.


chofer Says:

It’s TOO harsh judging this kid against THIS Rafa. Zverev it’s not there to tell you. I think he’s already the best player of his age group. And peole tends to forget his formation was on CLAY!!


Van Persie Says:

Sascha would have been more dangerous for Rafa,… he would have taken 1 perhaps lol


chofer Says:

Counterfacts :)-


chofer Says:

Besides, he has a winning record against Sasha so far:)


FedExpress Says:

Sascha is one year older and already was a top 10 player at tsi’s age.

given that sascha struggles at Grand slams but he was won 3 Masters titles and the WTF.

which next gen say this? and how many are in the top 10?


Van Persie Says:

Sascha would have taken 1 set
Do notr forget, some matches with Sascha were not that easy.
I would say Rafa would always prefer to play Tsitsi than the other


chofer Says:

I like Sasha. But his tennis it’s as crisp as it is mechanic. This kids volleys, drops and change spins Only left is a good slice and a firmer BH (pretty much like Roger in his begginings). He’ll learn. Has the hands. I like him better than Shapo, who has some tools, too. But needs to work on his body, like De Miniature.
This is Man’s tennis.


chofer Says:

VP

Thiis is not the same Rafa who played Zverev last year… when? Rome? He’s playing better than that!


Van Persie Says:

My point was, Titsi could never take a set from an in form Rafa. He would play beautiful an lose.


chofer Says:

Ues, Sasha was top ten earlier. In a year with half the top players injured. Nole absent. Roger not playing on clay. Murray DOA. Check the facts, guys.


Van Persie Says:

Australian Open 2017. Rafa was not far from this form!


chofer Says:

VP

You’re saying he’s a bad match up and I agree. Like Roger when he started playing him. I see similarities there (in stenghts and weaknesses) Roger moved better, had better serve. Give him time!


chofer Says:

He’s playing better than that year! He barely got through Dimitrov, who’s not a Slam “genius”, precisely.


Van Persie Says:

yeah, exactly, he will need a fatigued and not in best form Rafa.


FedExpress Says:

Nole still favourite to beat Nadal.


chofer Says:

In fact, I said he’s playing like in his Us Open run in 13 or 14 when he won it against Nole. Can’t remember exactly the year. I said so at the beginning of this thread.


chofer Says:

FedExpress

Not that fast. Wanna bet?


Van orten Says:

Well well Federer so sad he energized tsi tsi so much he played way over his level against Federer .. now today you can see what he will do when not invited back into the match .
Everyone writing Federer off again . Nadal very happy today . The djoker will have to finish the job as usual


chofer Says:

He’s not lost a set yet for crying out loud.


Wog Boy Says:

Sorry to disagree VP, Zverev would not take a set from this Rafa but would probably smash few racquets.
This is completely new version of Rafa on HC, better than 2013 version.
Serving like a best servers, flattening BH like never before, volleying like best volleyers, moving effortlessly, no need to mention FH, and playing consistently deep…..someone asked what 37 years old would do, he would be embarrassed, he is watching now and saying after seeing this Rafa..”Good I lost”;)
This is his AO to lose.


chofer Says:

I wouldn’t rule out Roger for Wimbledon. I think it’s a mistake he plays the whole clay season.- But at this point on his career, he can do whatever freaking thing he wants.


chofer Says:

WogBoy

Agree!! Why is nobody seeing these changes?? C’mon!


FedExpress Says:

Shitipas appears.


chofer Says:

Shitpas will win a loadshits of Slams when these animals retire.Perhaps, sooner. With a good draw and luck.


Wog Boy Says:

37 years old played 6 sets this January against Tsitsipas and could not break him one single time, he did not invite TSitsipas back in the match, Tsitsipas invited himself back in the match with gutsy and excellent play.


chofer Says:

The commentator here (Javier Frana, former pro and better than some foreign analysts, cover Slams since 2005) He’s saying it’s been a long time Rafa has not played this way on hardcourts.

People, you need some perspective. He’s winning the tournament.

Meet me afterwards.


Van Persie Says:

WB,

I heard the same about Roger in 2015 over and over again.
But let’s wait until Sunday, hoping Nole makes it tomorrow :)


chofer Says:

And I’m not a fan. Don’t have bias.

Anyway, a Nole match is what this tournament deserves.

Way teo go with two finals (women and men) to start the year!!


chofer Says:

VP

You’re a lost cause today. You can’t see what’s obvious. He’s playing light years better.


Van Persie Says:

I have no problem to admit on Sunday, I was wrong, when we will share “Told you so”s :)
Not loosing anything today as my guy plays tomorrow :)


chofer Says:

He can’t miss. Unbelievable.


chofer Says:

Your guy will win and I want to see a match with Rafa. Like, now! Thankful non partisan:)-


chofer Says:

Well that was his second UFe of the match. He’s playing bad!


chofer Says:

He missed a volley! Call 911.


chofer Says:

Two volleys! Ring the alarm, Rhianna!


Wog Boy Says:

VP,
I can’t see future but I can see how Rafa is playing, he has never played like this on HC before.

As for tomorrow, tonight was 38 degrees at the start of the match, they didn’t close the roof, tomorrow will be 41 degrees and windy but they won’t close the roof, it would be unfair for Rafa, besides sleezy Craig Tiley closes the roof only for one person when court temperature was 33 degrees!
Nole hasn’t played Frenchie before, conditions will be atrocious, Frenchie doesn’t have big weapon but doesn have to go for lines like Nole goes, in those conditions it will be hard, so let’s wait for that one and then we’ll talk about Rafa who is about bagel Tsitsipa:))


Andy Mira Says:

Yesss!!….Another win!Alhamdulillah…Thank u Allah!!…Vamos Rafa!!


chofer Says:

Tsitsi goes off, totally pissed off. Like a future champion:)-


chofer Says:

Andy, are you ok?


Van Persie Says:

WB,

Rafa is playing amazing. Do not get me wrong. But I have to ask:against whom did he win? Tsitsipas was not at his best level and he’s a good match up for Rafa.
Nole plys never with same intensity from the first until last match of the tournament! It is Rafa who gives everything in each point.
yeah, wheater is a huge factor tomorrow. Let’s see


Wog Boy Says:

This was complete anticlimax, I shouldn’t have watched it, makes me even more depressed after seeing this beat down, I hope some of VP optimism will rub on me:)


chofer Says:

Rafa is so transparent. He’s smiling because he knows he’s “zoning”.


Wog Boy Says:

VP,
I sincerely hope that your optimism will somehow rub on me, I feel so depressed after watching this beat down:))

I know what are you talking about, you have a point.


chofer Says:

VP

You’re not getting it. I’m telling you this with symnpathy: He didn’t let him into the match. Not him,not anybody so far. Nole will be different, sure. But he’s feeling super-confident, so Nole will need to be his self-wall best to beat him. Can happen? Sure. But it will take the Nole of yesteryear to do it.

Besides, what about Rafa touting Tstsi as multiple GS Champion?? He knows.


chofer Says:

Anyway, what matters is these two at the moment are so far ahead it’s imposssible that won’t be a super.match!!


Van Persie Says:

Chofer,

Tsitsi has to win his 1st so far 😉 and I wish him that. Until then, I will stay quiet :)


Van Persie Says:

WB,

I am not optimistic, I stay realistic until tomorrow, when we will know more :)


FedExpress Says:

Nadal holding as many runner up plates at the AO as Fed at the FO would be nice


Wog Boy Says:

VP,
After checking latest forecasts the news look better if it is to trust them, temperature will peak to 41 by 2pm and will drop to 26 by 7pm and wind will slow down, feel little bit better, not so depressed;)


Daniel Says:

Wow! Is this Nadal’s easiest path to a Grand slam final in form other than clay. He is crushing everybody.

But agree with VP, Tsisi is a food match for him and Berdych is a has been for quite sometime. Ealry rounds he also didn’t play anybody on form or with a game to hurt him. But even so, he is qay more agressive thab any toger USO run he had and the score shows.

Still think when is Novak the other aide of the net things change completly. With Novaks return Nadal’s service games are never a lock.


Wog Boy Says:

One more request to my American friends here, can you please teach Anna Wintour some manners how to behave in foreign country, firstly not to insult our Prime Minister and secondly who does she think she is to request the change of the name of Margaret Court Arena, one more thing, someone explain to her to take sunglasses off during evening matches, it looks preposterous.
Wait a second please, my wife just told that she is British too and had sunglasses when she was talking to Queen, that’s really bad manners, no good.
Ok, same request for my British friends.
Thank you kindly.


Andy Mira Says:

Chofer 5:36am…Hehehe…why u asked me whether i’m okay or not Chofer?Of coz i ‘m OKAAYYYYY!!


Andy Mira Says:

But,thank u for asking Chofer!


Van Persie Says:

That’s good news, WB. Thank you :)


j-kath Says:

Wogboy
I’m not talking to the Queen at the moment until she takes a whip to the “old Greek” and teaches him some humility – so I hope she returns quickly to the UK to annoy as many royals as she can rather than other nationalities.

As for Rafa vs Novak – gee whiz, who can decide which of these two warriers will win – not me.


Wog Boy Says:

JK,
Agree completely, I have seen interview with the victim of the “old Greek”, he even lied that sun obstructed him when in fact it was an overcast day. He shouldn’t be allowed on the public roads.

Back to tennis, the hiding that Rafa gave to “young Greek” reminded me of the hiding that Roger gave to Delpo QF of 2009 AO (6:3, 6:0, 6:0), Delpo was so badly beaten that he couldn’t find his way out of Arena after the match, guess what, Delpo won USO 9 months later beating Toger, just saying.


j-kath Says:

Yes, Wogboy – the young Greek will soon start to be a regular tennis ringmaster whipping opponents from across the globe – but have to say Rafa has been stunning so far – showing an unremitting determination. That said, your rubber-man is capable of bringing his best should they meet…..


skeezer Says:

Whoever “shows up” in the final will be crushed by the Bull. Rafa a is taking no prisoners this tourney. Too good.


jatin Says:

I don’t have much to say about this match other than Rafa is playing another dimension tennis currently. I was speechless seeing his shot making today.

Would love to see Novak making through the finals because he can push rafa to the limits and he always up his game to new heights whenever he sees Roger or rafa at the other side of the court. I want to see that match.

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