Kvitova, Osaka set up showdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:15 AM, January 25, 2019

Kvitova, Osaka set up showdown

Nadal steamrolls Tsitsipas

Rafael Nadal handed rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas a tennis lesson as he drubbed him 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in the Australian Open semi-final yesterday, while on the women's side of the draw Japanese star Naomi Osaka stormed into the Australian Open final to set up a battle with Czech comeback queen Petra Kvitova for the Melbourne Park crown and world number one ranking.

Nadal has not dropped his serve for an astonishing 63 straight games and has not lost a set on his way to the final, where he will face either Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille.

Seeded eight, Kvitova defeated Collins, who had a dream tournament debut to reach the final four, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 after the closure of the centre court roof gave her a boost.

Collins was matching Kvitova until play was interrupted late in the first set to shut the roof and the Czech said she was struggling until then to find her best form.

Reaching the final is the highlight of what Kvitova calls her "second career", after she returned following a terrifying attack in her home in the Czech Republic in late 2016. A burglar slashed her racquet hand, sidelining her for almost six months and causing permanent nerve damage.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, 28, also has a wealth of experience to draw on and it proved telling as she raced past unheralded American Danielle Collins in the other semi-final.

"To be honest, I think not very many people believed that I could do that again, to stand on the court and play tennis and kind of play on this level," she said.

In the other semifinal, Osaka outgunned seventh seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her second successive Grand Slam decider after a breakthrough triumph over Serena Williams at last year's US Open.

Osaka took the first set then held off a barnstorming comeback by Pliskova, who survived four set points to eliminate Williams on Wednesday but could not manage another miracle turnaround less than 24 hours later.

In the men's semifinal, Greek 14th seed Tsitsipas had enjoyed a fairytale run to his first Grand Slam last four, including a win over Roger Federer, but found Nadal in ruthless form as he won in 1hr 46min.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas had been hailed as a new Greek god of tennis after beating Federer, but his ascent to the summit of his personal Olympus was comprehensively halted by the colossus called Nadal.

Nadal's win put him into his fifth Australian Open final and keeps him on course to become the first man to win all four Grand Slams twice in the Open era if he can add to his sole Melbourne Park crown in 2009.

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