For the 225th time in his illustrious profession, Rafael Nadal grabbed a two-set lead in a Grand Slam match. For solely the second time, he blew that huge edge and misplaced.
A few uncharacteristically sloppy overheads and a framed backhand in a third-set tiebreaker started Nadal’s undoing, and his bid for a males’s-record 21st main championship finally ended within the Australian Open quarterfinals Wednesday with 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
At his put-the-ball-where-he-wants-it finest within the early going, Nadal went forward somewhat simply, successful 27 consecutive factors on his serve in a single stretch and operating his streak of consecutive units gained at main tournaments to 35, one shy of Roger Federer’s record for the skilled period.
Nadal and Federer are at the moment tied at 20 Grand Slam singles titles, greater than another man within the historical past of tennis.
But Tsitsipas by no means wavered and that surprisingly poor tiebreaker by the 34-year-old Nadal – considering too far forward, maybe? — helped hand over the third set and start the epic comeback.
The solely different event wherein Nadal went from a two-set edge to a defeat in a Slam got here on the 2015 U.S. Open in opposition to Fabio Fognini (who misplaced to Nadal within the fourth spherical at Melbourne Park this yr).
Federer (Miami, 2005)
Fognini (US Open, 2015)
Tsitsipas (Australian Open, 2021)
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 17, 2021
So now, as a substitute of Nadal trying to proceed his pursuit of Federer, it will likely be Tsitsipas – a 22-year-old from Greece with a flashy sport – who will meet 2019 U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev within the semifinals Friday.
Neither Tsitsipas nor Medvedev has gained a Grand Slam event.
In the opposite males’s semifinal, 17-time main champion and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic will face 114th-ranked qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who’s making his Grand Slam debut.
The girls’s semifinals Thursday (Wednesday night time EST) are Serena Williams vs. Naomi Osaka, and Jennifer Brady vs. Karolina Muchova.
Nadal got here into this yr’s first main with doubts about his again, citing that as his cause for pulling out of the ATP Cup crew competitors that preceded the Australian Open and saying the issue prevented him from working towards correctly for about three weeks.
But he hadn’t ceded a set at Melbourne Park by way of 4 matches; he gained all 21 units he performed finally yr’s French Open, the place he picked up his twentieth Slam trophy to drag even with Federer (Williams has 23, Margaret Court 24).
Federer hasn’t competed in additional than a yr after two knee operations.
With squawking seagulls offering an odd nighttime soundtrack at Rod Laver Arena _ however no spectators, as a result of they’ve been banned throughout an area COVID-19 lockdown, and gained’t return till Thursday _ Nadal all the time had a solution for something Tsitsipas tried on the outset.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 17, 2021
Rush the web? Here comes an angled passing shot. Hang out on the baseline? Good luck attempting to outslug Nadal from there.
It seemed prefer it may very well be a repeat of their 2019 semifinal in Australia, when Nadal overwhelmed Tsitsipas and allowed him to win simply six video games.
But this time, Tsitsipas got here in after three full days off, as a result of the person he was alleged to face within the fourth spherical, No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, withdrew with an belly harm.
That _ and a 12-year age distinction _ may need contributed to Tsitsipas’ being brisker within the late going as they performed past 4 hours. Tsitsipas, who’s been pegged as a future star for years, almost pulled off this kind of shocker in opposition to Djokovic within the French Open semifinals in October, going from two units all the way down to forcing a fifth.
Tsitsipas couldn’t seal the deal again then.
He did in opposition to Nadal.
Tsitsipas moved out entrance at 6-5 within the fifth by breaking at love as Nadal flubbed a collection of pictures, then served out the victory by changing his third match level with a backhand winner.