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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 February 2019

Australian Open updates: Rafael Nadal reaches final, Naomi Osaka sets up title clash with Petra Kvitova

Czech eighth seed bids for her third grand slam title and takes on either Osaka or Pliskova for the title

Rafael Nadal will face either Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille in the Australian Open final. EPA
Rafael Nadal will face either Novak Djokovic or Lucas Pouille in the Australian Open final. EPA

Nadal thrashes Tsitsipas to book final place

A marauding Rafa Nadal ended Stefanos Tsitsipas's trailblazing run at the Australian Open, thrashing the 20-year-old Greek in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 masterclass to reach a fifth final at Melbourne Park.

Staging a clinic under the lights at Rod Laver Arena, the Spanish second seed tamed the Tsitsipas serve and racked up 28 sparkling winners against the man who had knocked out double defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round.

After roaring to a 5-0 lead in the final set, Nadal closed out the match with a huge serve in one hour and 46 minutes leaving Tsitsipas to beat a hasty exit from the stadium.

The 2009 champion Nadal will face either top seed Novak Djokovic or Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the final as he bids for a second Melbourne title and an 18th Grand Slam crown.

Osaka edges tense battle with Pliskova

Naomi Osaka takes on Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final on Saturday. Getty Images
Naomi Osaka takes on Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final on Saturday. Getty Images

US Open champion Naomi Osaka staved off a fightback from Karolina Pliskova to reach her maiden Australian Open final with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win and set up a title clash with double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Osaka hit winners almost at will from both her forehand and backhand and broke Pliskova's service games twice while facing no break points to canter through the first set.

Pliskova, who had stunned Serena Williams in the quarter-finals, failed to live up to her reputation as a big server but showed lot of pluck to level the match with a second break at 5-4 after the players had an early trade of breaks.

Osaka converted her only break point opportunity in the decider while her opponent wasted four, and the 21-year-old made it to her second straight grand slam final with her 15th ace to seal the match in an hour and 53 minutes.

Kvitova dominates Collins to reach final

Petra Kvitova celebrates after defeating Danielle Collins to reach the Australian Open final. EPA
Petra Kvitova celebrates after defeating Danielle Collins to reach the Australian Open final. EPA

Petra Kvitova said reaching the Australian Open final "means everything" after the Czech eighth seed booked her place in Saturday's title match with a dominant 7-6, 6-0 win over unseeded American Danielle Collins on Thursday.

Kvitova, who is set to compete in her first grand slam final in five years, will meet US Open champion Naomi Osaka as she bids for her first major title since claiming the second of her Wimbledon titles in 2014.

The match at Rod Laver Arena was riven with tension, with a delay to close the roof during the first set due to the stifling conditions and a malfunction of the net cord sensor at the start of the second that left server Collins fuming.

Kvitova capitalised on the American's distraction to break her three times in succession on the way to an emphatic victory that made her the first Czech woman to reach the Melbourne final since Jana Novotna lost the 1991 decider to Monica Seles.

Kvitova's march to the final represents the latest milestone since her return to competitive tennis at the French Open in 2017 following a knife attack in her home in December 2016 that resulted in lacerations to the tendons in her left hand and put her career at risk.

"It means everything. I really worked very hard, finally I made it deep in this tournament," said Kvitova, who extended her win streak to 11 matches. "I am going to enjoy the final whatever happens. I am very, very happy.

"The first set was very tight. I was very nervous. I am glad I came through the tiebreak."

Updated: January 24, 2019 03:02 PM

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