The men’s and women’s final four have been decided after Rafael Nadal claimed an emphatic straight sets victory over Canadian Milos Raonic on Wednesday night.
Nadal being in the semifinal is “good news” after coming off injuries in the back half of 2016 and having to beat some of the world’s top players – Zverev, Gael Monfrils and now Raonic – to reach the final four.
“That’s very important for me because that mean(s) that I am competitive and playing well,” Nadal told reporters after his 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4 win.
“So (I’m) just excited about be back in final rounds of the most important events… it’s always difficult, but I fighted and I worked hard to make that happen.”
Relentless and consistent play from Nadal in the backcourt overwhelmed an out-of-sorts Raonic who began to suffer another flair up of his adductor that he damaged at the Brisbane International in early January. The Spaniard learned from their quarterfinal clash in Brisbane to place closer to the baseline, closing down Raonic’s aggressive shots without dropping meters.
There were some opportunities in that second set. Other than that, there wasn’t much for me to hold onto,” Raonic told reporters.
“Obviously he put it together more consistently, much more consistently, than I did today.
“He’s doing a lot of things well, he’s fighting well, which has always been his strongest attribute.”
Nadal will have to be at his best when he takes on Grigor Dimitrov who is unbeaten in 10 matches, including winning the Brisbane International.
Dimitrov dispatched David Goffin 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 just before Nadal and Raonic took the court, though the scoreline doesn’t show how tough the match was with challenging conditions.
“It was a little bit windy on one side, you had to find your way around the court, toss on the serve as well, there were just a few details that I felt I had to fix in a better way,” Dimitrov said.
“After the first set, I felt a little bit better, for sure, then I felt I was in control of the match after that.”
Rounding out the men’s competition, Swiss ace Roger Federer takes on fellow compatriot Stan Wawrinka on Thursday with the tennis world watching, and quietly hoping for a vintage Federer vs. Nadal final.
The ladies take to the court on Thursday with Venus Williams taking on Coco Vandeweghe, just before Williams’ sister Serena takes on Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni after getting through unscathed over German Johanna Konta 6-2, 6-3.
“(Lucic-Baroni’ s) playing really well, i think it’ s so important not to underestimate anyone,” Serena Williams told reporters, commenting on her semifinal on Thursday.
“This has been coming for her for a long time, she’ s been wanting to win Grand Slams and to do well… (so) I think it’ s so important for me to just stay focused and hopefully play well.”
Should both Williams sisters make it to the final, it will be the first time they have played each other since the quarterfinal of the 2015 U.S. Open, which Serena won. Serena also holds the ledger over her older sister winning 16 of their 27 meetings. Enditem