The 2009 Australian Open champion and the world no. 2 Rafael Nadal is through to his sixth semi-final at Melbourne Park following a convincing 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over a young gun Frances Tiafoe in just an hour and 47 minutes.
The Spaniard will compete in his 30th Grand Slam semi-final, becoming only the fourth player to achieve that behind Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Jimmy Connors and he is also the third player with at least six semi-final appearances at all four Majors after Roger and Novak.
This was the 252nd Grand Slam win for the Spaniard who is looking mighty impressive throughout the last ten days in Melbourne, taking full advantage of his new service motion and winning the matches without spending too much time on the court.
Tiafoe, the first-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, gave his best to stay in touch with the rival with whom he had a chance to train years ago as a junior, serving at 75% and blasting 13 aces but failing to make an impression with his second serve, which cost him the match.
Rafa landed 74% of the first serve in and he drew the most from it, losing 17 points on serve and fending off both break points he faced to attach the pressure on the other side of the net. Rafa created eight break points, converting four to maintain the lead all the time, playing on a very high level from the opening game of the encounter to end Frances' run and move two wins away from the second Australian Open crown.
The more experienced player started the engines right at the beginning, holding at love in the opening game in less than two minutes and breaking Tiafoe in the very next game after forcing an error from the youngster with his deep forehands.
That proved to be the crucial moment of the opening set, with Nadal closing one service game after another with ease, blasting two forehand winners in game nine to take the opener 6-3 in 29 minutes. Struggling to find any momentum, Tiafoe suffered a break at love at the start of the second set when Rafa sent a forehand down the line winner that moved passed him and he wasted the only two break points he faced in game four to extend the lead to 3-1.
Digging deep to prolong the set, Frances saved three set points on serve in the ninth game before Nadal hit a smash winner on serve a few minutes later for a 6-4 and a big step towards the semis. Nothing changed in the third set as well, with Rafa losing five points on serve and moving ahead in the very first game of set number three when Frances netted an easy forehand.
Serving at 2-4, the American gave his serve away after a perfect forehand winner from Nadal who crossed the finish line with a hold at 15 in the game that followed to continue his march towards the title, playing his best tennis in years here in Melbourne. Quarter-final result:
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-2