The Latest: Tiafoe jokes about Laver, ‘Don’t fall asleep!’
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Tuesday at the Australian Open (all times local):
Frances Tiafoe’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal did not go as well as he would have hoped, but one of the highlights 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.”
Rafael Nadal won all of his service games and ended 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe’s best run at a major with a dominating 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Nadal, 32, reached his 30th Grand Slam semifinal.
He now faces another much younger opponent, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eliminated two-time defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round.
Against Tiafoe, who had never been past a major’s third round, Nadal won 20 of the first 23 points in his service games and erased the only two break point he faced, both early in the second set.
Nadal has won every set he’s played in the tournament so far, the first time he’s done that en route to the semifinals in Australia since 2009, the only time he won the title.
Petra Kvitova is back in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time since her run to the 2014 title at Wimbledon and a home invasion that nearly derailed her career in 2016.
The two-time Wimbledon champion beat local favorite Ash Barty 6-1, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena and was tearful when she said she had never imagined she would be back here playing.
Kvitova missed the 2017 Australian Open as she recovered from injuries to her left hand sustained during a home invasion in the Czech Republic the previous month.
Her best run at a major after returning from the injuries resulted in a quarterfinal exit at the U.S. Open in 2017.
Kvitova is on a 10-match winning streak after winning the title in Sydney, where she beat Barty in the final, in the week before coming to Melbourne Park.
Barty was the first Australian woman in a decade to reach the quarterfinals here.
Kvitova will next play 25-year-old American Danielle Collins, who reached the Grand Slam semifinals for the first time after coming back to overpower Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
What has been working for Serena Williams seems to be working for Stefanos Tsitsipas, too.
The 20-year-old Tsitsipas has been training recently with Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, at Mouratoglou’s academy in France.
And Mouratoglou was a noticeable presence in Tsitsipas’ players box for his win over Roger Federer in the fourth round and again for his quarterfinal win on Tuesday over Roberto Bautista Agut.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever met until now,” said Tsitsipas, the first player from Greece to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. “He does bring me a lot of confidence in my game.”
The 20-year-old from Athens, the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007, said the best part about the recent working relationship is that Mouratoglou doesn’t talk too much.
“But whatever he says is so right and so on point that if I do that, most of the time he’s actually right and it’s working,” Tsitsipas said. “That’s kind of a skill, I would say, from people to be so direct and so right on what they’re saying one time, not talking too much ... making you feel confused. That’s what I appreciate and admire about him.”
Danielle Collins is into a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time after coming back to overpower Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 at the Australian Open.
The 25-year-old American had been 0-5 in Grand Slam matches before coming to this tournament, and now is on a five-match winning streak, including victories over three seeded players.
She reached the quarterfinals by upsetting three-time major winner and No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian titlist, 6-0, 6-2.
Pavlyuchenkova’s experience of reaching the quarters at all four majors helped her early as she broke in the second game of the match, which lasted more than 15 minutes and went deuce 11 times.
But the longer the match went, the more settled Collins became.
After breaking Pavlyuchenkova’s serve to take the second set, she conceded just three points in the third as she raced to a 5-0 lead.
The Russian held serve and then saved two match points in the last game before hitting a forehand service return long.
Collins will next play either two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova or Australia’s Ash Barty.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2007 after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open to follow up on his stunning upset of Roger Federer.
Tsitsipas is the first player from Greece to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and at 20 years, 168 days, is the youngest man to make the semifinals at a major since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open. He’s the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003.
The No. 14-seeded Tsitsipas will play either 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal or first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe.
“I’m just living the dream,” said Tsitsipas, who had beaten six-time Australian Open winner Federer in the fourth round.
The No. 22-seeded Bautista Agut advanced the hard way, spending more than 14 hours on court through his first four rounds. He had three five-setters starting with a victory over five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, followed by another against Australian John Millman and, after advancing through the third round in straight sets, his fourth-round win over 2018 finalist Marin Cilic went the distance as well.
Li Na saw much of herself in a young player on the women’s tour early last year.
The two-time Grand Slam champion didn’t hesitate to anoint Japan’s Naomi Osaka as the player with a bright future.
So, Li, to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July along with fellow former Australian Open champions Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, was not surprised when Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and is already a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park this time.
Li was a trailblazer in women’s tennis, becoming the first player from China to win a WTA title — in 2004 — and the first from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the 2011 French Open. She also won the Australian Open in 2014 after losing two previous finals here.
“When I first saw Naomi Osaka play, I thought she was really calm, very mature on court. She was so focused on her game itself, no pressure, point by point. That quality and the player’s focus really impressed,” she said through a Chinese translator.
Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai have combined for an upset 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) women’s doubles quarterfinal win over top-ranked Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Day 9 at the Australian Open.
Krejcikova and Siniakova won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles last year and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open to finish 2018 with the No. 1 ranking.
“They’re a great team — won 2 Slams last year, so we did well,” Stosur said. “We came back from a break in both sets — looking forward to tomorrow.”
Stosur, who had a career high No. 4 ranking in singles and won 2011 U.S. Open title, has two major women’s doubles titles but lost the only final she reached at Melbourne Park in 2006.
“It would be amazing,” Stosur said of winning at home. “I guess we’re close now, in the semis. It only gets harder here.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas was playing Roberto Bautista Agut in the first of the singles quarterfinals on Tuesday, and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing the last night match on Rod Laver Arena against Frances Tiafoe.