Tennis: Nadal through to semis, turns back the clock with straight-sets win against Raonic

Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his Men's singles quarter-final match against Milos Raonic at the Australian Open on Jan 25, 2017.
Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his Men's singles quarter-final match against Milos Raonic at the Australian Open on Jan 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardian - In what is turning into seniors' week at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal struck another blow against youth by defeating Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in a performance that nudged the Rod Laver Arena clock forward two hours and 44 minutes, and the calendar back several years.

In doing so, the Spaniard advances to a semi-final date with Grigor Dimitrov and keeps alive the possibility of his first Grand Slam final clash with Roger Federer since 2011. Rarely tonight did he look like a man playing his first quarter-final in 18 months.

To that end, and following his defeat at the hands of the Canadian three weeks ago in Brisbane, he also knew that the towering Raonic's service was the main weapon requiring neutralisation. The Spaniard could not have delivered much better on his promise in the first set, winning 83 per cent of points on his first serve and 75 per cent on his second.

Raonic, conversely, found his fabled trump card letting him down. His time might come relatively soon, but Nadal might yet win his 15th Grand Slam title, and one that would genuinely astound.

On this night an era refused to pass, but time did not stand still. Both players wore thick headbands - Raonic to tame a thick and youthful mane, Nadal to cleverly disguise what little remains of his own. That's veteran experience for you.