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Nadal hits back at 'completely wrong' Tsitsipas: 'It is nothing new that I'm aggressive'

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 25 Jan 2019
  • Nadal has hit back at critics that don't believe he's always been an aggressive player on court
  • Tsitsipas said he believed Nadal was 'definitely' more aggressive than usual in their semi-final contest
Rafael Nadal (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal completely obliterated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday night - and the Spaniard wasn’t done teaching the Greek youngster a lesson off the court during his post-match press conference.

Tsitsipas was at a loss to explain his 6-2 6-4 6-0 defeat to the 17-time Grand Slam champion in his own press conference, which ultimately transformed into more of a therapy session. Trying to find the answers for his inability to inflict any sort of damage on Nadal, Tsitsipas said he “definitely” believed that the Spaniard had adopted a more aggressive style of play for this Australian Open.

However, Nadal took exception to those comments, saying it’s been a common misconception throughout his career that he’s played a more defensive style simply due to his extraordinary achievements on clay.

"[It] is nothing new that I am aggressive," Nadal said. "The problem with myself is because I had a lot of success on clay people probably think I am not aggressive. I really believe that people [who] thinks that are completely wrong."

Nadal continued to declare that he’s always attempted to compete with an attacking mindset, but it was more noticeable during the Australian Open due to a recent improvement of his serve.

Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)
In similar scenes to his 2010 U.S. Open triumph, Nadal altered his service motion ahead of the tournament, and it’s leading to more pop behind his first serves - which then enables him to finish off points more swiftly.

"I can't play like Roger [Federer] when I don't have the serve of Roger ... [that] was not case during all my career because I never had that serve.
"But today I'm serving better. That's why I'm able to hit more winners on the first ball. That's the only reason. For the rest of things, I always tried to be aggressive. I have my mentality. You can't go against the way you understand the sport. I can't play trying to hit winners every ball if I don't understand the sport that way."

Nadal also alluded to more conscious efforts to be more aggressive as he enters the back-end of his career.

The 32-year-old realises his combative game style and relentless approach to outlast his opponents in baseline exchanges isn’t realistically sustainable in the long run.

“Today I have to adapt my game to the new time and to my age, that’s all. That’s what I did during all my career, just try to adapt my game with the circumstances that I went through. That’s the only reason why at this moment I’m still here competing at high level.
“I know during that 15, 16, 17 years of my professional tennis career, I (was) going to lose things on my way, so I need to add new things. That’s what I tried to do during all my career, to improve the things that I can improve.”

Nadal is aiming to win the 18th Grand Slam title of his career in Sunday’s final, with a win propelling him to within two more titles shy of Federer’s all-time record, and with the French Open coming up in May, he’d once again be in a strong position to overtake the Swiss legend.

It’s the seventh time Nadal has advanced to a major final without dropping a set, while it’s also his most dominant run to a Grand Slam showpiece outside of the French Open.

Nadal is yet to lose a Grand Slam final when reaching the title match without relinquishing a set. The Spaniard will face either World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or French surprise semi-finalist Lucas Pouille in Sunday’s final.

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Nadal hits back at 'completely wrong' Tsitsipas: "It is nothing new that I'm aggressive"

Rafael Nadal completely obliterated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday night - and the Spaniard wasn’t done teaching the Greek youngster a lesson off the court during his post-match press conference.

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