Rafael Nadal left a packed Rod Laver Arena in awe this morning after an nearly impossible 149 km/h forehand victor, where at full stretch he somehow managed to bend the ball around the net. The guard is not for changing just yet.
Nadal has made a serene run to the semi-finals, but instead of Federer, he will face his vanquisher Stefanos Tsitsipas who has modelled his game on the Swiss Maestro. The Czech No. 7 saved four match points against Williams before completing an astonishing comeback from 5-1 down in the third set.
Yet there were reasons to wonder.
But the Spaniard - a warm crowd favourite on Thursday night as he will be on Sunday - has lost his last three Australian Open finals, including the brilliant six-hour 2012 decider against Djokovic. So it's the first semi-final of the second career.
He has been as good as his word, looking fitter, faster and stronger with every match.
"I can do that damage little bit earlier than before because during this event I have been serving great", he said.
"He has everything to become a multi grand slam champion, when at that age he is in the semi-finals that says a lot of good things about him".
"I hope to face him in important rounds in the future". It was hard to imagine then that I would be where I am now. "I feel lucky to be where I am".
He'll be facing off against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has already taken down one titan of the sport in Roger Federer.
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After destroying Alex de Minaur, the highly-regarded 19-year-old local, in straight sets in the third round and Tiafoe in the last eight, Tsitsipas will be the latest youngster to test Nadal.
"Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match", Tsitsipas told a news conference after the 6-2 6-4 6-0 drubbing. "I knew if he got hold of a forehand, it was going to be barbecued chicken", Tiafoe said. I feel very unusual. I felt like my reaction time was very slow. It's a very weird feeling.
"I'm just trying to understand what has gone wrong today". He's very aggressive from the baseline. It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely.
"He gives you no rhythm", Tsitsipas said of Nadal.
It is not just his breathtakingly lovely single-handed backhands and fearless serve and volley game which resemble those of his idol, but also his calm demeanor under pressure. He has this talent that no other player has.
"Being honest, when it's that warm I'd prefer to close the roof", Nadal said. "He makes you play bad".
But Nadal gained valuable match practise as he worked his way through to the semi-final stage, not dropping a set in the process.
Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors' picks. Stefanos is one of the best players of the world. "That was a huge confidence boost, a springboard for the rest of my career".
The 14th seed has risen sharply up the rankings over the past year, winning his first ATP title in October and then going on to claim the Next Gen finals - the season-ending tournament for the best players aged under 21 - the following month. "I mean, I don't want to lose to Rafa 10 times".