Melbourne | Nadal crushes Berdych and Tiafoe celebrates 21st
Rafa Nadal strode into the last eight of the Australian Open for the 11th time, on ths occasion in commanding fashion as he continues to dominate his matches by reaching the quarter-finals without conceding a set.
I think the third set was the real Tomas Berdych. He made more mistakes than usual in the first two sets Rafa Nadal
He basically hammered Tomas Berdych for the opening two sets and while the Czech made more of a match of it in the third, the Spanish Bull pushed through 6-0 6-1 7-6(4) completing his victory after two-hours and 5-minutes.
The 32-year-old Mallorcan continues to impress on his return to the fray having suffered from a knee injury and not played an event since the last major in New York in September.
The Spanish second seed blasted out of the blocks to win nine games in a row against the Czech who was hardly allowed any breathing space to get a foothold in the match on the Rod Laver Arena..
“I always say the same when I am back from injury. I don’t expect negative or positive things,” said Nadal after claiming his fourth win in Melbourne.
“When you come back, you need a bit of luck at the beginning because it’s important the first couple of matches.”
But while Nadal had it all his own way for the first two sets, Berdych did manage to ruffle the Spaniard’s feathers a bit in the third holding sets points in the ninth and 11th games.
But the Czech, who missed five months last year with a back injury, allowed his frustrations to boil over when the serve clock mysteriously packed up during the tiebreak – on Nadal’s serve! He complained that the second seed was too slow between points, pointing out: “I don’t see (the clock) when we change over and I don’t see (it) now.”
Unfortunately the electronic boards on the centre court had failed. It certainly wasn’t his day, made even worse no doubt when one fan shouted out from the crowd: “Take as long as you want, Rafa,”
Nadal, who is aiming to become the first man in the Open era to win all four Slams twice if he can add to his 2009 Aussie crown, agreed Berdych had finally come to the party in the third set and made life tough.
“I think the third set was the real Tomas Berdych,” Nadal said. “He made more mistakes than usual in the first two sets.”
Next up for Nadal is the giant-killing Frances Tiafoe who beat the 20th seeded Grigor Dimitrov on a day he celebrated his 21st birthday.
“It’s going to be the first time that we play each other. Yeah, he’s playing great,” the Spanish superstar said of Tiafoe, who is fast becoming a fan favourite with his exuberant celebrations.
“He won a couple of great matches during the tournament. He’s super quick. And he’s able to change directions fast.
“He goes to the net fast. He has a huge forehand, good serve. So let’s see.”
In fact Tiafoe broke down in tears after booking his spot in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in what was another remarkable display by the American world number 39.
Tiafoe had already sent fifth seed Kevin Anderson packing prior to his 7-5 7-6(6) 6-7(1) 7-5 win over the 27-year-old Bulgarian and he let the tears flow ahead of his on-court interview.
Fighting them back, he said: “It means the world (to me). I worked my ass off, man. I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and I was going to change their life and my life and now I’m in the quarters of a Slam at 21 years old. I can’t believe it, man.”
Dimitrov acknowledged his defeat by going round to his opponents side of the court to embrace the youngster and give him some words of encouragement.
“Me and Grigor are great friends, ever since I came on tour he’s been so nice to me – always,” he added.
“I told him next time we’re going to play I was going to win. I’m happy I got it done today, on my birthday. I would have been mad as hell if I’d lost on my birthday.”
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Nadal, he added: “Yeah, I can’t do anything. He’s going to run me like crazy. I gotta go to sleep now!