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Barbecued chicken- Frances Tiafoe coins term for the ball hit by Rafa Nadal’s power

first_imgFrances Tiafoe had a dream run at the Australian Open till it lasted. On Tuesday he came across against the fiery forehand of Rafael Nadal and found himself wanting. Nadal came out with complete gusto and took advantage of the nerves from Tiafoe and was on top of almost all the balls that the USA youngster shot at him to eventually win 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.”I knew he was going to bring crazy intensity, I knew the ball was going to be jumping. I knew if he got hold of a forehand, it was going to be barbecued chicken,” Tiafoe said.”But point in, point out, I’ve never seen someone so locked in.”Tiafoe fought hard and in fact served exceptionally well for most part of the match but could not break Nadal even once in the match.No place on the court is safe.Rafael Nadal unleashes a monster forehand for the @cpaaustralia Shot of the Day.#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/XXb9TwHIFd#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 201930th Grand Slam [email protected] #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/eijorlz1E5#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2019In his first service game of the match, Tiafoe got broken in each set to go behind early on. In the third and final set of the match, Nadal broke him twice and served out the set to stay on course for his second title in Melbourne.”I felt having the break at the beginning of every set, that gave me a lot of confidence. Then I was serving well, playing solid,” Nadal told reporters.advertisementFirst time they’ve met.And we’re pretty sure it won’t be the last…@RafaelNadal and @FTiafoe #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/x0wGsCzgvM#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2019Nadal and Tiafoe hadn’t played each other before, though they did practice together at Roland Garros back in 2014, when Tiafoe was a teen in the junior competition.Entering this year’s Australian Open, the 39th-ranked Tiafoe had never been past the third round at a major. But he knocked off two-time Slam runner-up Kevin Anderson and 20th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov on the way to the quarter-finals, drawing plenty of attention for his play – and his bare-chested, biceps-slapping celebrations inspired by LeBron James.”To be back in the semifinals… means everything to me.”Welcome back to the final 4 @RafaelNadal #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/m15CkCK2eU#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2019As usual, Tiafoe was animated and talkative on Tuesday. He lamented missed shots with a self-admonishing “Oh, Frances!” He marked good ones with a shout of “Let’s go!”@RafaelNadal’s take on his semifinal opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/Ym7lxtvNAP#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2019But it all came to a screeching halt against Nadal, a 17-time major champion.Tiafoe was happy with his performance though and for him one of the highlights of his tournament was the chance to play in Rod Laver Arena – with Laver himself sitting in the stands.Tiafoe said he looked over at the only man to twice complete a calendar-year Grand Slam and “saw the eyes close at one point.” And so this, then, is what went through the 21-year-old American’s mind: “Don’t fall asleep on me!””I was about ready to say something,” Tiafoe joked after his loss to Rafael Nadal. “You know what I’m saying?”Still, Tiafoe continued, “It was cool that [Laver] was out there. Yeah, I mean, he’s a legend of the sport, and so is Rafa.”Nadal was happy and emotional about his tournament in Melbourne Park on Tuesday. He was forced to retire hurt in the fifth set of last year’s quarter-final against eventual finalist Marin Cilic, eight years after pulling out midway through his last-eight clash against Andy Murray with a knee injury.”It’s very emotional for me to be back in the semi-final in Melbourne,” Nadal said in the on-court interview. “I had some troubles in this event all my career.”To be back to the semi-final without playing for a while means everything to me. So I just want to say thank you very, very much everybody. Great feelings, to be able to play in this court is always so special.”And of course I’m very happy with the way I played tonight.”For a place in the final, Nadal will meet 20-year-old Greek sensation Tsitsipas, who earlier on Tuesday became his country’s first player to reach the last four at a major with a 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6(2) triumph over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.After destroying Alex de Minaur, the highly-regarded 19-year-old local, in straight sets in the third round and Tiafoe in the last eight, Tsitsipas will be the latest youngster to test Nadal.advertisement”When you face these young players, they are in permanent improvement. He’s with confidence. He won a lot of good matches. Will be a tough one,” Nadal said.”For me is always the same: you are in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, you can’t expect an easy opponent. Stefanos is one of the best players of the world.”To have the chance to be in that final, I need to play my best, and that’s what I am looking for.”(With agency inputs)last_img read more

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