Greek drama

Nadal lost to Tsitsipas after clearly dominating the first two sets. It is the third time they have come back from 2-0, second in Grand Slams.


There was curiosity, and a bit of fear, to see the behavior that Rafa Nadal would have in front of a great rival, a tennis player who on paper could make things difficult for him and who also had saved the round of 16 game by abandoning the Italian Matteo Berrettini . And the truth is that Stefanos Tsitsipas, number six in the world, inflicted a tough defeat on the Balearic Islands, because he came back two sets, something that had only happened to Nadal twice, in Miami 2005 against Federer and in the US Open 2015 against Fabio Fognini. Until 2-0 he was sensational in the execution of his game plan, agile and fast in his movements and with all his weapons at full capacity, including the serve, great at times (15 aces in total). But from then on he became entangled, fell into the tiebreaker trap in the third set, when he made several unexpected errors, and in the fourth and fifth he lost control of the match. The problem was not his back, he himself recognized it later. This time he suffered from a pure tennis issue. Neither experience, courage nor the magic of his blows prevented an important slip: 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 4-5 and 5-7 in 4h: 05.

Two years ago, also at the Australian Open, in the semifinals, he had beaten the same opponent with ease. This Tsitsipas is much better than that time and on Friday at 09:30 he will fight for a place in his first Grand Slam final against Daniil Medvedev. The Russian cast his compatriot Rublev and he is getting out. The 21st great title for Rafa, who remains stuck in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year in Melbourne, will have to wait. Maybe I'll arrive at Roland Garros.

Paraphrasing Nadal himself, who likes this phrase a lot, surely he would have signed to have a first set as placid as the one he found to open his mouth against Tsitsipas. The Hellene barely squeezed him and, after a few tentative bars with several blank games, at the right moment, with new balls, he attacked the rest and ate it. The number two in the world mastered the plays, from side to side of the court, loading the game on the backhand in search of his rival to reverse to hit the ball from the forehand and leave half an empty court. That's where Nadal came in with the back crossed like a knife in a piece of margarine.

Inertia remained at an ideal start in the second set, with a new break and subsequent consolidation to place the 2-0 start and rest in the next game. The Spanish asked that they put a fan on his bench to alleviate the sensation of heat (24 degrees) and, above all, humidity (73%), and he kept cool to take Stefanos ahead, listless and crestfallen when he verified that none of his plans became solutions. In those came Nadal's double break and the anticipated end of the set.

Absolute overturn

In 1h: 18, Nadal already had the match resolved. Or so it seemed, because Tsitsipas finally came up with an idea. He raised the quality of his serves to avoid bleeding, since he had nothing to do with the rest at that time (he won a point in the entire sleeve) and blatantly sought the 'penalties'. He found them and in the tiebreaker, Nadal missed two easy shots, when he had nailed several during the set, he hit a bad drive, a rod and, without eating or drinking it, he missed the sentence. The game went wrong and the Greek's first break option arrived, grown by the success of his strategy.

Rafa had to make an unexpected extra effort. Especially mental. To make matters worse, his enemy had two more balls to break, which luckily for the Majorcan escaped him. A tension appeared for him in the services that until then he had not suffered. He even had to resort to the famous go! to try to come up and respond to Tsitsipas' increased pace. And even a second serve ace. But the worst was yet to come. The Hellenic finally broke him and served to equalize the game. Amazing. More wood. In the fifth set Nadal was not bad, however he did not see the way to score points to the rest against an opponent who no longer failed. He almost found it in extremis, to force what would have been the lesser evil of the super tiebreaker, but after lifting two match balls and having a breaking point, he could not with the third. What seemed unreal became true. Another defeat in the quarterfinals and this time against a Next Gen tennis player, who finally gets to his beard.

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