Golden oldie Rafael Nadal shocked by stunning form in Australian Open

Nadal has looked in imperious form in Melbourne. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2019

Golden oldie Rafael Nadal shocked by stunning form in Australian Open

  • World No. 2 has looked in stunning form in year's first Grand Slam.
  • Aussie Open is Nadal's first tournament since last September.

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal admitted he has surprised himself with his outstanding level of tennis at the Australian Open after crushing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinal.
The Spanish world world No. 2 handed the rising star a ruthless tennis lesson 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in just 106 minutes.
Greek 14th seed Tsitsipas had enjoyed a fairytale run to his first Grand Slam last four, including a win over Roger Federer, but found Nadal in ruthless form in the Spaniard’s first tournament since the US Open in September
“Is not easy to be back after four months, five months, and play the way I am playing,” he said after undergoing ankle surgery in his extended off-season.
“Of course, I didn’t expect that at all,” Nadal told reporters after setting up a final Sunday against either top seed Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille.
“I believe that when you are older, you lose less the tennis when you are playing less.
“You don’t need that many matches to play well. That’s something that happened for the last two years for me.”
Second seeded Nadal has not dropped his serve for an astonishing 63 straight games and has not lost a set.
“I played well, of course. Have been playing well during the whole event. Every match more or less I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one,” he said after a breathtaking display of almost perfect tennis.
“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, no?“
Tsitsipas, 20, had been hailed as a new young Greek god of tennis after beating Federer, but his ascent to the summit of his personal Olympus was comprehensively halted by the colossus called Nadal.
“I have no idea what I can take from that match,” said a despondent Tsitsipas. “I wasn’t even close to getting something. I only got six games.”
Nadal’s win put him into his fifth Australian Open final and keeps him on course to become the first man to win all four Grand Slams twice in the Open era if he can add to his sole Melbourne Park crown in 2009.
Tsitsipas, in just his second Australian Open and seventh appearance at a Grand Slam, was looking to become the first Greek player — man or woman — to reach a final in a Grand Slam.
“He has everything to become a multi-Grand Slam champion,” Nadal said graciously of the young Greek, who enjoyed a breakthrough 2018, winning the ATP Tour NextGen Finals.
Nadal, who shattered the dreams of two other NextGen stars 19-year-old Alex de Minaur and 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe by jumping all over their serves early, made another immediate statement.
At 1-1 a rasping double-handed backhand and a forehand winner gave him a first break point which the Spaniard duly converted. Another followed as he cruised to the set just 31 minutes.
The second stanza was on serve at 2-2 when Nadal pulled off the shot of the tournament, a running forehand around the net post from almost behind the umpire’s chair on his way to earning three break points.
And the great Spaniard was in no mood to hang about at the start of the third, breaking Tsitsipas not once but three times to inflict a humiliating 6-0 “bagel” on the youngster in a further 31 minutes.


Spanish driver Carlos Sainz takes third Dakar Rally title after winning Saudi edition

Updated 17 January 2020

Spanish driver Carlos Sainz takes third Dakar Rally title after winning Saudi edition

  • Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this”
  • He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018

QIDDIYA: Veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz won the Dakar Rally for the third time on Friday, finishing with a comfortable winning margin in the first running of the event in Saudi Arabia.
The 57-year-old crossed the line in the 12th and final stage 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz’s lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation blunders.
“I feel very happy. There’s a lot of effort behind this. A lot of training, practice,” Sainz told the race’s website.
“It has been a flat out rally since the beginning. It was fantastic, a first time in Saudi Arabia, of course you can always improve but it was a fantastic effort,” he added.
Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this.”
Sainz, the father of F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., seized control of the race from the third stage in his X-raid Mini.
He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018.
Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9min 58sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages in the marathon 12-day, 7,800-kilometer (4,800-mile) race.
Ricky Brabec triumphed in the motorbike section for Honda, becoming the first US rider to win the gruelling race.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished 13th on his Dakar debut, nearly five hours behind the winner.
Alonso came second in one stage but his first participation in the Dakar was a bruising affair as the 38-year-old Spaniard suffered a double rollover in the 10th stage after hitting a dune at an awkward angle.