Melbourne: Rafael Nadal – 14-time Grand Slam champion, is up against Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open men’s semi-final. The mighty Spaniard needs to beat the Bulgarian to set up a much-awaited clash with old nemesis Roger Federer in final. (Score – Nadal leads 6-3)
THIRD SET – Nadal wins it 7-6
The set started on a good note for both the players after they held on to their first two service games to level score at 2-2. Nadal drew the first blood in the set when he broke Dimitrov’s third service game to go 3-2 up. But Dimitrov broke Nadal’s next serve and went up 4-3 after holding on to his serve. Dimitrov continued to dominate proceedings and was leading 6-5 at one stage. Rafa held on to his serve to take the set to a tie-breaker at 6-6. Nadal won the first point, 1-0. Dimitrov won the next one as Rafa’s forehand went wide, 1-1. With a good serve and forehand winner, Rafa went up 2-1. Dimitrov’s backhand went way long and wide from the left-corner of his side, Rafa extended his lead to 3-1. With a good forehand, Dimitrov reduced his deficit to 2-3 as Rafa’s return landed long. Dimitrov missed on an opportunity to hit a forehand winner on an empty court towards Rafa’s right as the ball crashed into the nets. Rafa was leading 4-2 at that point. Good backhand slice from the Bulgarian reduced his deficit to 3-4. Rafa took a 5-3 lead after Dimitrov’s backhand went long after a good rally. Dimitrov served an ace, 4-5. Rafa’s forehand crashed into the nets, to level score at 5-5. After another good rally, Dimitrov’s shot went wide which gave the Spaniard the first set point. Rafa won the set finally 7-6.
SECOND SET – Dimitrov wins it 7-5
In an epic set that lasted for 63 minutes, Grigor fought back hard to win the second set.
The Bulgarian, who lost the first set, despite some stunning winners, made a strong comeback in the second set where he broke Rafa’s serve in the fourth game. He held on his serve to take a 4-1 lead. Dimitrov is playing sensational tennis today, not to forget is on a 10-match unbeaten run. Some pressure on Rafa now. Nadal then held on to his next service game to bring the score at 2-4. Serving at 4-2, Dimitrov committed too many errors and Nadal failed to convert a break point. But the Spaniard got another opportunity with a two-handed backhand winner past his opponent. He committed yet another double fault as Rafa broke his serve and got an opportunity to serve at 3-4. In a stunning turn of events, Rafa was broken off his next serve as Dimitrov took a 5-3 lead. Rafa broke Dimitrov’s serve again in his next service game to reduce the deficit to 4-5. Nadal won a marathon next service game which lasted for over ten minutes. The Bulgarian missed plenty of break points in that game. But towards the end, Grigor finally managed to hold on to nerves and broke Rafa’s serve yet again to clinch the set.
FIRST SET – Nadal wins it 6-3 in 35 minutes
As expected, both the players were aggressive from the word go. The first set was all about Rafa’s forehand vs the Bulgarian’s one-handed backhand. Nadal took an early advantage in the first set by breaking Dimitrov’s serve in the fourth game. Dimitrov, despite losing the first set, has had his moments. But Nadal has for sure rolled back the years of his millions of fans, who wanted him to rediscover his mojo.
Having regained his form, Rafa is once again the favourite to beat Dimitrov. Seeded ninth, Nadal looked dominant his quarter-final match against Milos Raonic which he won comprehensively in straight sets.
Nadal, 30, has looked fit and aggressive, if not fully back to his best, in beating third seed Raonic, Gael Monfils and Alexander Zverev in his last three matches.
“All of them are top players. So that`s very important for me because that means that I am competitive and playing well. I worked hard to try to make that happen,” Nadal said.
The 14-time Grand Slam-winner, now ranked ninth, is aiming for his first major final since in two-and-a-half years after returning from an injury-wrecked 2016.
But Bulgaria`s Dimitrov, once dubbed `Baby Fed` for his similarity to Federer, poses an interesting test as he is in the form of his life and playing with new focus and determination.
Dimitrov has beaten five top-20 players in a 10-match winning streak this year, equalling the best of his career, which includes his victory this month in Brisbane.
How to watch
Time: 2 pm (IST)
On TV: Sony Six
Live streaming: Sonyliv.com
Source: Zee News