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 twenty first main championship ultimately ended in 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 greatest in the early going, Nadal went forward quite simply, profitable 27 consecutive factors on his serve in one stretch and operating his streak of consecutive units gained at main tournaments to 35, one shy of Roger Federer’s file for the skilled period.
Nadal and Federer are at the moment tied at 20 Grand Slam singles titles, greater than every other man in the historical past of tennis.
But Tsitsipas by no means wavered and that surprisingly poor tiebreaker by the 34-year-old Nadal – pondering too far forward, maybe? — helped hand over the third set and start the epic comeback.
The solely different event in which Nadal went from a two-set edge to a defeat in a Slam got here on the 2015 U.S. Open towards Fabio Fognini (who misplaced to Nadal in the fourth spherical at Melbourne Park this yr).
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 recreation – who will meet 2019 U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals Friday.
Neither Tsitsipas nor Medvedev has gained a Grand Slam match.
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 ladies’s semifinals Thursday (Wednesday evening 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 workforce competitors that preceded the Australian Open and saying the issue prevented him from practising 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 ultimately 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 greater 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 have been banned throughout an area COVID-19 lockdown, and will not return till Thursday — Nadal all the time had a solution for something Tsitsipas tried on the outset.
Rush the online? Here comes an angled passing shot. Hang out on the baseline? Good luck attempting to outslug Nadal from there.
It regarded prefer it might 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 presupposed to face in the fourth spherical, No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, withdrew with an belly harm.
That — and a 12-year age distinction — might need contributed to Tsitsipas’ being more energizing in the late going as they performed past 4 hours. Tsitsipas, who’s been pegged as a future star for years, practically pulled off this kind of shocker towards Djokovic in the French Open semifinals in October, going from two units all the way down to forcing a fifth.
Tsitsipas could not seal the deal again then.
He did towards Nadal.
Tsitsipas moved out entrance at 6-5 in the fifth by breaking at love as Nadal flubbed a sequence of photographs, then served out the victory by changing his third match level with a backhand winner.