Nadal downs Raonic, becomes Australian Open title favorite

We’re only in the semifinals, and Rafael Nadal is the betting favorite to win a Grand Slam title on a hard court. Yes, that is the reality of the current situation in what has been a surprising Australian Open from start to finish.

Nadal still has several roadblocks in his path to a 15th major triumph, but he overcome an especially large one–literally–during quarterfinal action on Wednesday night. The Spaniard took down No. 3 seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4 in two hours and 44 minutes.

Consistently playing much closer to the baseline–especially while returning serve–than he did in a recent Brisbane loss to Raonic, Nadal struck more winners than the Canadian (40 to 39) while finishing with fewer unforced errors (21 to 32). He also won six of seven total break points in the match, four of four saved on his own serve and two of three converted on Raonic’s serve.

It was all but over for Raonic when he failed to capitalize on any of six set points in the second, one of which he squandered with a double-fault at 6-5 in the tiebreaker.

Nadal-Raonic highlights:

“I am competitive and playing well,” Nadal assessed. “Just excited about be back in final rounds of the most important events. I [fought] and I worked hard to try to make that happen. [It] is a special thing for me, especially here in Australia.”

“There were some opportunities in that second set,” Raonic reflected. “Other than that, there wasn’t much for me to hold onto. I thought he did some things well. I thought he took the match to me. He did something a little bit different than he normally does.”

Next up for Nadal on Friday is Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised past David Goffin in straight sets. An all-Swiss semifinal showdown between Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will take place on Thursday.

“Let me enjoy today, the victory, being in (a) semifinal,” Nadal said when asked about a potential final against Federer. “For me [it] is great news; a good start of the season. Now I have a very tough match against Dimitrov. What happens on the other side of the draw, I think is great for tennis that Roger is there again after an injury, after a lot of people talk about always the same thing, that probably he will never be back.

“He’s back and he’s probably ready to win again, fighting again to win a major. That’s the real thing, and that’s good for the fans because Roger is a legend of our sport. I am happy to be there, too.”

25 Comments on Nadal downs Raonic, becomes Australian Open title favorite

  1. If Rafa comes out and plays the way he did against Raonic, then he can win this In 3 sets. In fact, I expect him to play even better. He will be feeling very good about the win over Raonic.

    Rafa has shown that mental fught and toughness which has served him so well in his career. I think he sees the finish line now and won’t be stopped.

  2. Nadal had a very good gameplan and kept Milos moving the entire match. Milos is not the best at covering the baseline and his backhand was atrocious throughout most of the match. It had looked much improved during the World Tour finals. His serve was also about 10 mph slower than usual. Nadal looked sharper than he has in quite some time but Milos looked to actually be a weaker version of himself due to the flu.

    Dimitrov doesn’t have Milos’ firepower but is an excellent retriever. This will be I believe a tougher test but Nadal has been improving each round and should have the mental edge. I think this match goes 5 sets as Dimitrov’s defense will keep Nadal from scoring at will as he did with groundstrokes against Milos.

    • Raonic couldn’t serve well against Rafa because Rafa ‘handcuffed’ him, by returning so close to the baseline, esp at the BH corner, and hitting those ridiculous sharp angled CC unreturnable returns!

      At Rafa’s FH corner, I noticed that when Rafa was standing way back to return serves, Raonic would bomb down his ace out wide, but once Rafa moved closer to baseline to return serves, Raonic could not serve that way and Rafa then had his racket on the ball to hit a good enough return.

      Rafa came out with a good game plan vs Raonic, he’s Djoko like in his ROS this match and stick to it till end of the match, great and well executed game plan.

  3. It seems that the times, they are changing…. to the way they were, getting close to an eventual Fedal final in which Nadal would have one less day of rest ..same old story.

    • Yeah, I was surprised to learn that the first semi is to take place on Thursday! I thought both semis would be played on Friday…it would make more sense…

    • I had forgotten that they play one semi on one day and the other the next day. I don’t like that.
      ☹️

      • I am gettIng a bit nervous about my prediction. I haven’t been making predictions for Rafa’s matches and I don’t want to jinx it now.

        I am thinking that maybe Dimi could get a set off Rafa. I may change my mind again before the match!

  4. I’d like to see Federer beat Nadal in the final, but I think Dimitrov is playing as well as anyone – he can rallie and defend and no matter how nicely Rafa played (and served) he just can’t come up with the kind of winners he used to. Add to that Rafa was barely getting the ball over the net on the set points against him, he was very lucky that a pro like Raonic cannot put those points away. Raonic double fault at 6-5 up in the 2nd set tie-break was pure schoolboy, the first thing you learn in tennis is not to double fault in a tie-break…that was embarrassing and unsurprisingly Raonic practically disappeared after that.

    I think where Raonic was unable to win the break points, Dimitrov will have more chances and is better equipt – of course he doesnt have the Raonic serve so he’ll be broken a few times as well. Dimitrov is unlikely to make lots of unforced errors so it will be very tight, a couple of tie-breaks probably..

    In a way the connoisseur would be just as happy seeing a Federer v Dimitrov final, and this could well be the occasion.

    • I go not agree with your analysis of Rafa’s match with Raonic. For one thing, the reason why Raonic wasn’t playing well had a lot to do with Rafa’s tactics. Like standing on the baseline to receive serve and changing his ROS position. Rafa was also going to Raonic’s forehand side more. He was very aggressive, looking to move into the court to hit volleys for winners.

      I don’t know what this business is of the ball barely going over the net. It’s either over the net or it isn’t! Rafa took Raonic out of his game. What about fighting off six set points in the second set? Even Raonic said after the match that Rafa did not give him many chances.

      Rafa is not going to roll over for Dimi! He is mentally stronger and has been in this position many times.

    • I think the so called “connoisseur” would be MORE than happy given that Fed would wipe the floor with Dimi given that Fed does everything better than him.

      On the other hand, I’m wondering if you can tell me the last time Fed beat Rafa in a slam.

      #RhetoricalQuestion

    • Mira Andi,

      I am grateful that you are on this site. You have such a wonderful spirit and you help me with my nerves and emotions. Rafa fans have waited for this, hoping that Rafa would find his way back. But now that Rafa is gettIng so close, I am trying to keep it together.

      I am going to try and be up to watch it live. I have been battling a nasty stomach bug that is going around. I stayed up night last Friday
      to watch the match with Zverev. That took a lot out of me. So I recorded his matches if it was too late for me.

      But I really want to be here with you and others because the support is great. I will try to get some sleep by going to bed earlier. Then I eill try to watch live as much as I can.

      You have already helped me so much! I can’t thank you enough!

      I will definitely make the effort to be here for as long as I can!

      • Nny…That’s what friends/rafa fans are for!We stick together,in rough time and certainly in wonderful time like this..Don’t worry a thing okay Nny?We rafa fans have gone through so much that make us so strong,so brave all this years..no fan base have been through what we have been through Nny…So,with that being said..surely watching a very precious and joyful rafa match just like icing on the cake,yes?But,if you can’t watch it live that’s okay Nny..maybe we can be a temporary commentator for ESrafaPN Chanel.Com.Whatever for the next time..I’ll be here if you need me Nny…Btw..How’s your stomach bug?Still fighting it?Hope your health will recover soon Nny…Surely you can’t do a lawn mower fist pump if Rafa win this sunday Nny if you still sick…So,get better soon okay?WOOOOOHOOOOO!!VAMOS NNY AND RAFA!!!

  5. Although I would expect Rafa to come through against Dimitrov in a best-of-five match, I wouldn’t ignore their previous match a few months back. Dimitrov was really able to put pressure on the Nadal serve and was able to win relatively comfortably in straight sets. I think if he can pressure Rafa’s serve and really go for his shots, we could have us a match!

    • Rafa was playing so badly during the Asian swing due to his wrist/hand problem that he pulled the plug on his season. I don’t think you can consider that match. Otoh, Dimi is probably playing better than he ever has so yes, I think we will have a match.

    • Can’t compare Rafa’s serve last year vs this year at the AO. It’s Rafa’s serve that helped him out of troubles many times here vs all his opponents. Last year Rafa didn’t have a serve like this.

  6. IF Roger win today and IF rafa win tomorrow,2009[2:0] will repeat itself[again!]when Roger also played the 1st semi final and got 2 days of rest..while rafa will play the 2nd semis and only got 1 day rest…I hope the result will also be the same[my prediction it will if Rog who’s going to the final]…Btw i think Rafa will win in 3 or 4,if Dimi fight and won’t let rafa settle into his game plan,then rafa will get nervous and maybe surrender 1 set,just like what happened with Monfils..if not rafa will once again win in 3…VAMOS RAFA!!!

    • Rafa can impose his game on Dimi. Dimi is quick no doubt but he’s not exactly a precision ball striker; Rafa may force errors out of Dimi’s racket. The important thing is for Rafa to stay calm and continue with his good serving and returning; the rest of his game is all sound, but Rafa please don’t have brain cramps and stops hitting that WTH drop shot!

      • The only way Dimitrov can win this is if his forehand finds precision that he has never really exhibited in a big match before. Nadal will break him down and win this tournament.

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