PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal beats Milos Raonic to set up Australian Open semi-final with Grigor Dimitrov

Rafael Nadal sailed into the Australian Open semi-finals with a straight-set defeat of the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in two hours and 44 minutes.

Rafa reached the last four in Melbourne for a 5th time with a 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-4 win.

2009 champ, seeded 9th as he seeks an 15th Grand Slam title, faces Grigor Dimitrov in the last four.

After the match, Rafa said:

I am not a very arrogant person so I always have doubts. It’s normal, even when I was winning a lot I had doubts so you can imagine when I wasn’t…

I had a great career, but a lot of tough moments. That makes me enjoy this even more.

44 comments

  1. What a stunning performance from Rafa against Milos. In conversation I am speechless.
    In print, there are no words to describe how thrilled and happy I am for Rafa and his team.
    I enjoyed reading all the other fans’ reactions and thoughts conveyint their utmost support for him.

    I wish Rafa and his team all the best in the semi-finals against Grigor, another very hungry
    talented and likeable competitor.

    Vamos, Rafa!!!

  2. I have no coherent words left for what I feel. Rafa, this is unbelievable. Those emotions are not comparable to anything, not even Roger reaching the semis, even if this is making me very, very happy, too. It is a constant state of thrill and joy and excitement… after all that suffering.. I’m not one of the fans here who I really admire (!) who did always believe. I always wish and dream, but really, really believing? Not so much the last two years. This is freaking unbelievable.

    • We are not there yet. A loss now against Dimitrov would be very painful. A loss to Stan even more. A loss to Roger would be a complete disaster. Do not forget: Rafa wants to end up with at least the same amount of majors as Roger. So he has to make it 17-15. 18-14 would be totally horrid. I also do not understand how you can support both players; the personalities, style of play, mental toughness, they are miles apart. And Rafa is the one who uncovered the Federer legend, by beating him time and again, at a time that the media treated him (RF) as if God had decided to have a go at tennis (to the point that Roger actually believed that himself). Rafa stopped him at Wimbledon, and never allowed him passage at Aussie Open and RG. It MUST remain like this. For sheer GOAT status sake.

      • I really do not expect anybody to understand why I support both players because this is a very complicated and contradictory story. I am Swiss and Roger got me into tennis first when I was a teenager. Rafa jumped in my heart some years later. I do not go too deep into details, but I do support them in a complete different way. I bow to Roger and love to watch his game, but for some reasons my heart decided to beat for Rafa. Nonetheless, I will never, never give up my love for Rogers “dancing” style of play and his lighness.
        Those two represent an era, something I guess we will never witness again in sports, but they also represent two oppositional sides of different aspects of character that I (and maybe many of us) carry inside ourselves.
        I want Rafa to have the same number of GS-titles like Roger when they end their career. If it won’t happen, I’m also ok. For me, there there is no question about who is the best player of all times. They both are, to me. But Rafa “stole my heart” ;).

      • Btw: I did not write anything about a final between those two yet, I don’t know why you are saying “we are not there yet”. Believe me, I know ;).

      • Your comment is comparable to telling a mother that she can love only one of her two children. Or a pet parent of multiple pets of different species that she can love only one pet.
        It is the very nature of their different styles that have intrigued fans for years. Rafa and Roger have many of the same fans.
        What Rafa wants is “to be on top again,” to be healthy and to be able to compete at a high level. If he wins more grand slams that is just icing on the cake. He is astounded by what he has accomplished. Competing is literally his life, so much so that instead of resting after an injury he enters tournaments.

        As for any loss here at the AO, Rafa didn’t even expect to get this far in the tournament. You can tell by the joy he showed after the A. Sverev and Roanic wins. He is back to his hop-skip and fist pumps.

        Stop whining about GOAT and enjoy Rafa’s wins because we don’t know how much longer he will be competing. Hopefully, it will be more than the two-three years he spoke of.

        RAFA ROCKS

      • Margo as usual you are the one that spoils the party. Pro tennis players, and definitely the Big Four plus Stan and DelPo, they are in it for one thing, and for thing only: MAJORS. They want to win as many of those as possible and yes, the amount counts for Rafa for sure. He continued after 2015 and 2016 for that reason, and Moya only joined after having confirmed that winning majors is the goal. Same reason Becker left Djoko as he understood the fire there went out. It is probably not easy to understand, for you don’t have that drive in you that top athletes and successful entrepreneurs share, that drive that can lead to great achievements. Keep feeding us your hollow statements, you are the sideline type with the big mouth who never has been there and never will be. While Nadal stays on course to write tennis history.

      • Apologies, I didn’t know you were present during Rafa’s conversation with Carlos.
        You also had Rafa out of the AO in a loss to A. Zverev.
        Now that Rafa is winning you again switch allegiance.

  3. Straight sets is important at a major. What happens in the Wawrinka Federer match is key to the final. If it is a long drawn out death march with long heavy ball rallies the war of attrition could cost the victor in the final. It seems the adjustments to Rafa’s game have created some efficiency that could pay dividends from both an future injury perspective and opportunity on the faster surfaces. Dimitrov got through in straight sets as well. He will not go quietly. It would be great for the game to see a Rafa Fed final… but there is a long way to go for that to happen. Wawrinka’s backhand is not as vulnerable to Rafa as Fed’s backhand once was. But credit to Carlos Moya… he has clearly been a strategic asset to Nadal’s game in ways that have paid great results! Vamos!

  4. Rafa, I never lost faith in you even when you were losing, even when some said you were finished. If that were the case, I wanted to hear it from you. Not from commentators and surely not from fans who stuck by you only when you were winning.

    I knew there would come a time, once you were healthy, that you would rebound because of your indomitable work ethic, your love of the game, and your willingness to “fight hard for the important things.”

    When you announced that “this is not the end,” and that “you were not ready to retire,” I told myself to get ready for the end of the rollercoaster ride. I am ecstatic that you are returning to be that force to be reckoned with. What a metamorphosis!!!

    Good luck against Dimitrov.

    RAFA ROCKS

  5. Didn’t watch the match but im waiting for the highlights. Checked the final score though at work and was grinning from ear to ear. Straight sets – fantastic! So pleased for rafa

  6. Sorry, I got more to say about this win, after analysing the match highlights too. The version of Rafa, who hits a good serve, followed by an inside out winner, that version has returned in the last 1.5 weeks. We have only seen a shade of that version in the last 3 years. Don’t give me fall 2015 or MC and RG 16 – no frigging way, that was Rafa at 75-80% with all the confidence issues still fully harming him.
    The Nadal of today, is the best version of Nadal since the US Open 2013 (yes, I believe Rafa is playing better than at the Aussie Open 14 and RG 14 – the latter I believe is Rafa’s lucky slam cause Djoko was not fit and Rafa himself played at 85% of his best, remember, this was the horror year 2014). The Nadal of today is actually the Nadal we’d all hoped he would slowly devolve into, when aging in the years following the US Open 2013 (with a very slight decrease in power and speed), hell, did that process turn out differently and djeez, has our patience been tested. Arisen from the dust is a version of the legend that has aged, is a tod slower, but once again brings to the table all those elements that can crumble opponents like Raonic: a never give up mentality, make that guy win each point three times before he wins it, be a brick wall, stand on that baseline, have no mental weaknesses, no weak periods in a match. Remember Wimbledon 2008? Why did Rafa win that 5th set? Because he played each point from the start as if it was still the tie-breaker of set 4. Federer expected him to mentally break, and in turn broke himself once he realized it was not happening for him, Rafa never turned into Roddick, Hewitt or Nalbandian. The Weak Era was over!
    And the same goes for the US Open 13 final. Why did Rafa win that match? I watched every second of it and Djoko had the upper hand, was the better player, until the last two games of set 3. There Rafa refused to surrender his serve, hit a handful of incredible winners, broke the Djoker mentally and subsequently took set 4 as if it was practice (Djoko checked out, faced something he could not imagine existed).
    The Nadal of today seems capable of feats like the above. When did Rafa last refuse to surrender, and survive 6 set points, in a major? We have to go back a long time folks. None of the three other remaining players in the draw, is looking forward to play this version of Rafa. I can assure you that. One can only imagine what would have happened if “change” (a new coach) had come earlier (cause yes I consider these 3 lost years). But it is not too late. The goal: the second career grand slam, is clear. Without a shade of doubt, this Aussie Open would be Rafa’s most impressive trophy of all. Tennis and Rafa being all about mental strength, imagine where a win here could lead to furthermore. That is why Friday and Sunday are SUPER important. VAMOS!

    • Great analysis. It is fascinating to see the effect of Carlos Moya on Nadal’s game. Moya was a very SMART and talented player. They are all talented at this level *(Duh). But having the time off to integrate significant and intelligent adjustments off both sides of the ball has clearly paid huge dividends. Obviously Fed has done some important work on his time off too. Those two are some of the most mentally tough players in the history of the game. And neither of them has the pressure on them that they once may have had before they were clearly accomplished champions. But Rafa won the 5th set at Wimbledon because it was fucking dark and the average height of his ball being EIGHT feet above the net gave him a much higher margin for tennis by braille. They should have finished that match in the daylight. (I can’t wait for them to pave over the grass and put hard courts in at the All England Club).

  7. So so happy for Rafa. It was awesome to see him attack the Roanic serve standing close to the baseline and blocking the returns back. No more free aces for Roanic. Also Rafa’s body serves have been awesome at the AO. Now all 3 left have single handed backhands that Rafa has excelled against. Go get your 15th Rafa. Vamos!!

  8. magnifique sensationnel quel gd champion notre rafa 👍👍👍👍👏👏👏👏👏❤❤❤❤

  9. Finally, Rafa starts to return from the baseline – this changed the entire dynamic of Rafa’s game – it not only reduced the time that Raonic had to react to the return, it set up strong follow up shots by Rafa, he reached and blocked most serves, and most important, Rafa was not tired when he would begin serving. He did not need to run around as much as he has been doing when returning serves from far. Hopefully he keeps this up, and his service return will only get better, and Rafa will be back where all opponents would fear him!

  10. Great, great win! Finally, for the first time in a long, long time, we don’t have to be in funeral mode cause once again some opponent that Rafa should own, beat him. The long requested change (albeit not as drastic as I’d wished) has led to returned confidence (the scared rabbit look – I did not see it this tournament and voila, who is winning big points now?), return of the fearhand and baseline play from the baseline instead of 5 meters behind it. I can only say: Vamos, Vamos, Vamos Rafa and win this tournament. It would make Rafa Nadal the absolute greatest of all times with a double career grand slam. Go for it, it is clear that he can do it!!!

    • Jason, Great comments! I too was heartened by the changes Rafa made. Maybe there are more to come! Wins build confidence!

      • Thank you va4favre, the next task ahead for Nadal is like summiting the Everest. The toughest part comes last. But he can do it. And I believe he will do it. And this comes from someone who has not believed in Rafa winning a major since Aussie Open 2014. Cause there were too many signs in those 3 full years, that it would not happen. And man, look up those vids, Rafa played so much worse, his level of today is uncomparable. Beating Raonic in 3, that guy is one tough nut to crack, madonn’!

        It takes something for me to get optimistic about Nadal’s chances these days, but based on what he did so far, I really believe he can do it….and WILL do it!

  11. I was so happy after Rafa’s win today. He played so well and there were some obvious adjustments that might have come from Moya. I do not know if Rafa can win the next two matches, but I am more positive about his future matches. I did not see signs of his dreaded nerves. We now just have to stay healthy. Vamos Rafa! You can do it!!!

  12. What a match. Rafa looked brilliant out there. Take rest and all the best for the semi-final. You can do it – Vamos Rafa <3 <3 <3

  13. i was so relieved and happy to see Rafa win and especially in straight sets.
    Milos is such a big server but Rafa coped with him very well.
    I noticed that Rafa stood so much closer to the baseline in this match. Advice from Moya perhaps? In any case it assisted in Rafa looking, and being, more aggressive in my opinion.
    I have my fingers crossed for a Fedal final But I am afraid to say any more in case i put a jinx on it.

    • Not a jinx…yours is good karma. Those who didn’t even consider Rafa as a contender were spreading bad karma. Many are hoping for a Fedal final.

      RAFA ROCKS

  14. You were the favorite Rafa, and you came through with a beautiful straight-set win. Sooo very happy for you. Just wonderful to see you advancing so deep in this first Grand Slam of 2017.

    RAFA ROCKS

  15. Thrilled with Rafa so far. Such a joy to watch you even though u r not yet at your best. Hope u keep it up!!!! You played quite well most of all recovering after some blemishes and letting Rainic off.

    Take care of yourself and all the very best for the next match.

    VAMOS Rafa!!!!!!!!!

  16. Fantastic win against a tough opponent-pure joy on Rafael’s face. 👊💪👏👍👑We see you and your love for the sport inspires us-play on♥️Stay healthy, stay
    strong. Always respectful of his opponent-a privilege to watch!

  17. Aww Rafa done did it! Granted Raonic was nursing some injury but either way Rafa was not to be denied today. Also, he seemed to have gotten a good read on the Raonic serve.

    Next up, Dimitrov! Another tricky prospect. Good luck there Rafa, all the best!!!

  18. Rafa , you are so loveable and charming. Charisma oozes out of every pore . Can’t wait till your next match . Grigor has been playing great , but after today’s performance I don’t think you have anything to worry about. You are pure class and that will always win through.😀

  19. YES! 🎾💪🏼 Congratulations on your amazing win dear Rafa 😃❤ All the best of luck at the semi-final 😘👍🏻

    VAMOS CHAMP! 🌟😍🍀

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