In 2019, Rafael Nadal defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 47 minutes to remain on the title course. After challenging times on hard courts in the previous season, the Spaniard decided to make significant changes in his serve and approach, embracing new service motion and hitting more valiantly with his first groundstroke than ever before.
Rafa finished the 2018 season in the top-2, but he knew he had to find a way to excel his game on the most common surface and challenge the rivals from the top at the most notable events. Working on his serve since September 2018, Rafa made significant improvements with his initial shot and showed that in Melbourne next year.
Rafael Nadal praised Stefanos Tsitsipas ahead of their 2019 Australian Open clash.
Nadal won the first five matches in straight sets and didn't waste too much time on the court while chasing the second Australian Open title.
After beating Tiafoe, Nadal said he is delighted with how he played in Melbourne up to that point, attacking with both serve and forehand to gain an advantage on the court and keep the points on his racquet, which wasn't always the case in the past.
Also, Rafa praised the fellow semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, saying he made impressive improvements and became a contender for notable titles. Tsitsipas claimed the ATP Next Gen Finals crown in November 2018, gathering momentum and playing on a high level in Melbourne two months later for a deep run that included a win over Roger Federer.
"The young generation doesn't want to wait for big wins or titles; they are here now, with Frances reaching the quarters and Stefanos waiting in the semis. It will be a great year in terms of sharing the generations that make the sport special, and that would be interesting to watch.
Over the last 12 months, Stefanos Tsitsipas has constantly been improving his game, winning the first ATP title and playing in other ATP 500 and Masters 1000 finals. He is in the semi-final now and well-capable for beating the world's best players. He is a great player and should remain at the top for a long time," Rafael Nadal said.