Not four minutes have elapsed when Rafael Nadal notices a strong cramp in his right leg while talking to journalists about his defeat in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, against Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4 ), 6-4 and 7-5. It has been four hours and five minutes of an exchange to the braves, against a rival who is 12 years younger (22-34) and who only two ago could scratch him six games in the semifinals of the Australian great. Suddenly, the muscle seizes him and the champion of 20 majors decides to retire a few minutes to recover and continue commenting on this painful goodbye later. Everything had gone smoothly until three or four unfortunate maneuvers rehabilitated the rival. The rest, the comeback, has been up to the Greek.
Nadal pays a blowout against Tsitsipas 'A persecution that resists', by TONI NADAL
“They asked me if I was well prepared, and it has been shown that I was not. That's what happened… ”, he answers humorously when he returns to his chair. “Obviously, I have lacked preparation. It was a jerk. After the memes that happened with New York [in 2011, when the cramps caused me to close an appearance lying behind a table], I have decided to go out running instead of throwing myself to the ground. It has hurt me a lot more, but at least I think I have avoided something… ”, he continues in a good tone before returning to his hotel and saying goodbye to a dream, that of achieving his 21st major and thus becoming the most successful male tennis player of all the times, distancing themselves from Roger Federer.
On center court, he and Tsitsipas have starred in an authentic thriller in which the script has played a distraction . Nadal has started as a shot, taking the first two sets and proposing his best version in this strange tournament that was born at forced marches and has developed in the same way. However, then he twists, misses several balls that he does not usually miss in the third heat tiebreaker – a pair of smashes , a forehand and a cane- shaped backhand – and, when he had a foot and a half in the semifinal, the Greek He reacts in a big way.
”I tried, but I made some mistakes in the tie break that in the end were decisive. The first two sets I played well, yes, but it is also true that he played much worse those first two sets than after. You don't have to fool yourself. He then played very well; In the third he made a leap and in the fourth and fifth he served very well, and made few mistakes. His adrenaline has risen. In the last set I have not played badly, I have only played a bad game with the equal five. That's the truth. If I win the tie break , we would already be in the hotel, sleeping. I have been wrong in a few tactical things ", Nadal analyzes in a first reading that precedes a second, related to the scene that journalists have just seen.
Another jump from Tsitsipas
" Physically maybe I was missing a bit, that extra of spark. No need to explain. Things have not turned out as we expected, but at least I am leaving much healthier than I was a week and a half ago ”, he continues without wanting to mention the back problems that he began to suffer three weeks ago, a few days after landing and that finally managed to solve thanks to an infiltration in the lumbar area. Indeed, Nadal has lacked punch in a pulse that has lasted when he seemed determined and in which Tsitsipas, fresher by not having to jump onto the track in the previous round due to Matteo Berrettini's injury, has faced more Clearly an agonizing final stretch.
Nadal, then, leaves Melbourne without the intended loot. After two very light first commitments, an affordable third and a hopeful intervention against Fognini, the Mallorcan stumbled upon a major rival who at 22 may not be too far from a significant jump. Tsitsipas continues to complete its evolution. In 2019 he already reached the penultimate round in Melbourne and last year that of Roland Garros; Two years ago he conquered the London Masters and he is one of those few who have managed to knock down Nadal (twice, in eight crosses), Federer (two in four) and Djokovic (another two, in six).
“I have managed to maintain the Calm down. After the third set, he was flying like a bird. Everything worked out for me, ”explains the Greek, cited for a place in the final with Daniil Medvedev (7-5, 6-3 and 6-2 to Andrey Rublev). The launched Russian will arrive, having chained 19 victories and three trophies since he made his way in Paris-Bercy, in November. Meanwhile, Nadal says goodbye in the quarterfinals, the same season as last year.
“After everything that has happened, the preparation has not been perfect, so I don't think I have missed a great opportunity; I just consider that I have lost an opportunity to be in the fight. There was work to do, I'm not happy. What can we do? Play better next time ”, closes the one from Manacor, condemned for an inopportune blowout.
TWO HISTORICAL TURNS: FROM FOGNINI TO THE GREEKO
Until this Wednesday, the Italian Fabio Fognini had been the only one able to overcome two adverse sets against Nadal in a great . The one from San Remo did it at the US Open in 2015, when he won 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4, in 3h 46m. Before, Federer also managed it, but it was not in a major but in the 2005 Miami Masters (2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3 and 6-1, in 3h 43m). Yesterday's defeat also marks Nadal's first in his entire career, having won two more games than his rival (27-25). On the other hand, after five days of confinement this Thursday the fans will return to the stands of Melbourne Park. Specifically, 7,477 in each session. At 9.30 (Eurosport) Djokovic and Karatsev are measured, and at dawn the Serena-Osaka and Muchova-Brady were played. These last two got rid yesterday of Ashleigh Barty (1-6, 6-3 and 6-2) and Jessica Pegula (4-6, 6-2 and 6-1), respectively.