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There was curiosity, and a little fear, to see the behavior that Rafa Nadal would have against a strong rival, a tennis player who on paper could make things difficult for him and who also had saved the round of 16 due to the abandonment of Italian Matteo Berrettini. And the truth is that Stefanos Tsitsipas, number six in the world, inflicted a very hard defeat on the shooter, because he won two sets back, something that It had only happened to Nadal twice, in Miami 2005 against Federer and at 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 trap of tiebreaker in the third set, when he chained 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 the experience, nor the 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 year in a row in Melbourne, will have to wait. Maybe it will arrive at Roland Garros.

To paraphrase Nadal himself, who likes this phrase very much, he would surely have signed to have a first set as placid as the one he found to open his mouth against Tsitsipas. The Hellenic barely squeezed him and, after a few tentative measures with several blank sets, at just 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.

The 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 feeling of heat (24 degrees) and, above all, humidity (73%), and he kept cool to take Stefanos ahead, listless and crestfallen when he saw that none of his plans turned into 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 had 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 he blatantly sought the 'penalties'. 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 cane And, without eating or drinking it, the sentence escaped him. The game went wrong and the Greek's first break option came, 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.

Schedule and results.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

vs

Rafael Nadal

Sets:

Converted break points

Converted break points

Converted break points

Converted break points

Converted break points

Percentage 1st service

inside / totals
84/136
61%

inside / totals
103/151
68%

Points earned from the rest

inside / totals
41/147
27%

inside / totals
34/138
24%

Converted break points

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