Nadal Looking Good in Australia
The 2019 Australian Open is well under way and the top players in the world are aiming to make a great start to the year by winning the first Grand Slam. Much talk in the men’s singles has been about the progress of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer plus the emotional departure of Andy Murray. However, while much of the attention has been on these three players, Rafael Nadal has eased his way into the tournament and progressed the semi-final with a minimum of fuss.
Return from Injury
You must go back to 2009 to find the last time Nadal won the Australian Open and that remains his only success in Melbourne during his long and illustrious career. The Spaniard has made the final three times since but has lost on each occasion, including in 2017 when he went down in five sets to Federer.
Having been forced to retire from the US Open semi-final in September due to a knee injury, much talk was surrounding Nadal’s fitness ahead of the 2019 Australia Open as opposed to how far he could go in the tournament.
Nadal was asked to rate his fitness level out of 10 prior to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi and Nadal said, “I don’t know. I am not that good with numbers. I started about two weeks ago and I am taking small steps forward. I am just making sure I am moving forward and it’s not a step backwards. I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 per cent”.
It appears the former world number one was correct and he has come into the 2019 Australian Open 100% fit. Nadal has been making light work of his opponents and is yet to drop a set in reaching the quarter-final of the tournament.
The second seed swept away former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the fourth round and looks in fine condition having suffered a long list of injuries. Nadal can add Berdych to a list of players he has defeated in straight sets at the Australian Open this year, which includes James Duckworth, Matt Ebden and Alex de Minaur.
Huge Favourite to Make the Semi-final
Nadal will meet Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-final, a young American player who finds himself in new territory having never been beyond the third round of a Grand Slam event previously in his career.
That makes Nadal huge favourite to win the match at just 1/9 with Ladbrokes and the Spaniard is now 7/2 with William Hill to win the tournament having started the event at 9/1.
Nadal should at least reach the semi-final now and if he can make light work of Tiafoe, as he has done his previous opponents, it would not be a surprise to see him go on to win the 2019 Australian Open.