Nadal rolls over Raonic

Nadal rolls over Raonic

Serena ousts Konta to set up Lucic-Baroni reunion

Rafa Nadal returns a shot during his match against Milos Raonic at Melbourne Park, yesterday.

Rafa Nadal returns a shot during his match against Milos Raonic at Melbourne Park, yesterday.

Rafa Nadal continued his brilliant revival at the Australian Open to topple Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 6-4 yesterday and reach his first grand slam semi-final in three years.

The ninth-seeded Spaniard joined Roger Federer in the last four, keeping alive the prospect of a dream final between the two great rivals who have claimed 31 grand slam titles between them.

Having not reached a major semi-final since his 2014 French Open title, the 30-year-old Nadal produced a match from his halcyon days to fell the third-seeded Canadian in two hours and 44 minutes at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal will play 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov, of Bulgaria, for a place in the final – with Federer taking on fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the other semi – after the Spaniard emphatically batted away doubts that his best days were long gone.

“I think I am not a very arrogant person so I always have doubts,” he said in a court-side interview.

“Even when I was winning I had doubts and even more so when I had injuries. But doubts make you work harder.”

Earlier, Dimitrov dismantled 11th seed David Goffin 6-3 6-2 6-4 to advance to his second grand slam semi-final.

“In the first set it was absolutely nerve racking,” the 25-year-old, whose previous grand slam semi-final was at Wimbledon in 2014, said.

“I felt that I could play well but I was not striking the ball as well as I could and I was a bit passive. With each game I was feeling a bit better and I was finding my groove. I’m just happy now.”

In the women’s tournament, Serena Williams remained on course for her 23rd grand slam title by quelling the challenge of in-form Briton Johanna Konta 6-2 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne for the eighth time.

Mirjana Lucic-BaroniMirjana Lucic-Baroni

The 35-year-old American served up 10 aces and thumped 25 winners over 75 minutes to join sister Venus in the last four, where she will play Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Ninth seed Konta, who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne last year and won the Sydney warm-up tournament, managed a single break in the second set but was unable to cope with the power of the world number two.

Furious with herself at times because of her inaccuracy, Williams channelled the anger to overcome 25-year-old Konta and reach her 34th grand slam semi-final without having given up a set in five matches.

Williams said she was delighted to be facing 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni, some 18 years after their only two previous meetings in 1998.

“It’s really amazing, 30 is the new 10,” Serena said.

Yesterday, Lucic-Baroni’s leg hurt so bad she thought she might have to be wheeled out of court but the gutsy Croat hung tough to record a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over fifth seed Karolina Pliskova.

Lucic-Baroni won her first singles match at Melbourne Park in 1998 but had to wait 19 years for her second victory in the year’s opening grand slam last week.

Reaching the last four was beyond her wildest expectations.

“I can’t believe I’m in the semi-finals again. I feel a little bit in shock right now,” she said.

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