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Australian Open: Rafael Nadal beats Stefanos Tsitsipas, reaches final

By
Alex Butler
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning his men's singles semi final match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Thursday at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Luikas Coch/EPA-EFE
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning his men's singles semi final match against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Thursday at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Luikas Coch/EPA-EFE

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Stefanos Tsitsipas delighted tennis fans by reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal, a run ended by Rafael Nadal on Thursday at the 2019 Australian Open.

The 20-year-old from Greece entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed. He defeated two unseeded opponents before knocking off No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvii, No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 22 Roberto Bautista Agut.

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But Nadal -- the No. 2 seed -- had little trouble dispatching of his young counterpart at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. The 17-time Grand Slam champion trailed 1-0 at the start of the first and second sets, but stormed back each time to take control of the match. He cruised to a 6-0 third set after winning 6-2, 6-4 in the first two sets.

"He has everything to become a multi-Grand Slam champion," Nadal told reporters. "When he's in the semifinals at that age, it says a lot of good things about him. I hope to face him in important rounds in the next couple of years hopefully."

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Nadal, 32, now awaits the winner of the other semifinal between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 28 Lucas Pouille for a shot at his second Australian Open title and first since 2009.

No. 4 Naomi Osaka defeated No. 7 Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 her semifinal matchup to reach the women's Australian Open final. Osaka will face No. 8 Petra Kvitova, who defeated American Danielle Rose Collins in straight sets (7-6, 6-0).

"I don't necessarily think I played the best I've ever played," Osaka said. "For me, what I take away is that I never gave up. That's something that I'm really proud of myself for."

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The women's final is at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday while the men's final is at 3:30 a.m. on Friday in Melbourne.

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