Yevgeny Kafelnikov recently spoke with Tennis Majors about Rafael Nadal's exit from the 2021 Australian Open. Kafelnikov expressed surprise at the manner of Nadal's loss on Wednesday; the Russian expected the World No. 2's experience to see him through against his younger opponent, but that wasn't to be.
Rafael Nadal was quick to get off the blocks in the quarterfinals, as he led Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2 at the end of the first two sets. But the Greek would eventually turn the match on its head with some inspired play on his serve and forehand, which earned special praise from Kafelnikov.
"The way the first two sets unfolded, of course I did not expect for Tsitsipas to win," Kafelnikov said. "It was shocking for me that Rafael Nadal lost three straight sets.Tsitsipas is definitely a great player, no question about it; he is very talented and he has got the skills to be one of the very best."
"I expected Rafael Nadal's experience to be the deciding factor" - Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Yevgeny Kafelnikov lauded Stefanos Tsitsipas' first serve, which was so strong against Rafael Nadal that the Spaniard was able to create only one break-point opportunity in the last three sets.
"Stefanos serves well, he moves around the court really well and is adept at the net, all of which makes him very good for the game of tennis," Kafelnikov said. "I am not surprised by his good run, but I am with today’s results since I expected Rafa's experience to be the deciding factor. This time, though, youth prevailed."
Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who himself won the Australian Open in 1999, then went on to name Daniil Medvedev as the favorite against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second men's semifinal to be played on Friday.
"Tsitsipas' game suits Medvedev’s style of play and I do not see how Stefanos can present problems for Daniil, to be honest," Kafelnikov said. "In my opinion, Tsitsipas does not possess a 'killer' shot that could cause Medvedev trouble and Daniil likes to play against opponents with one-handed backhands, Tsitsipas is not going to be able to hurt him off that wing."
Kafelnikov also cited Medvedev's return of serve and Tsitsipas' serve as some of the key aspects of their match-up on Friday. The Russian is of the opinion that Medvedev is the firm favorite to march into the final based on their head-to-head record alone, which is currently 5-1 in Medvedev's favor.