MELBOURNE, February 17: Rafael Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title came crashing to a halt at the Australian Open on Wednesday as Stefanos Tsitsipas rose up to topple the Spaniard 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 and reach the semi-finals.
World number two Nadal had not lost a set coming into the evening clash at Rod Laver Arena and was locked on target for the last four at Melbourne Park after roaring to a two-set lead over the listless Greek.
The match turned on its head when Nadal wavered in a messy third set tiebreak, and a rejuvenated Tsitsipas rallied brilliantly to take the match into a decider.
Capturing Nadal’s serve at 5-5 in the fifth, Tsitsipas saw two match points slip through his fingers as he served for the match but fired a backhand winner down the line on the third to claim one of his finest career victories.
“Well done for him, he played better than me probably in the important moments,” Nadal told reporters.
“I tried my best in every single moment … I think I stayed positive all the time during the match, fighting, and it was not enough. Sometimes it’s enough, today was not enough.”
Fifth seed Tsitsipas will meet Russian Daniil Medvedev for a place in the final.
“I fly like a little bird and everything was working for me,” Tsitsipas said on court.
“The emotions in the end are indescribable.”
Medvedev pleased to outlast ‘Duracell battery’ Rublev
Russian Daniil Medvedev feels Wednesday’s win over compatriot Andrey Rublev was his best showing at the 2021 Australian Open and the fourth seed was particularly pleased with how he managed to tire out his opponent who seemingly runs on “battery”.
ATP Finals champion Medvedev defeated friend Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in sweltering conditions during the afternoon on Rod Laver Arena, for his fourth straight-set win against the seventh seed in as many career matches on the ATP Tour.
Asked if it was his best win so far at this year’s tournament, Medvedev said: “Definitely.”
“Andrey at this moment was on fire… he was definitely for me one of the favourites to go far in this tournament.
“To win this match in three sets, especially how physical it was, was (an) amazing level from me, and I’m really happy about it.”
Medvedev and Rublev, who is two years younger to the 2019 US Open runner-up, rose up through the ranks together, playing against each other on the junior circuit and two weeks ago combined to help Russia win the ATP Cup title.
Both players appeared to be suffering from cramps during the match and following his win Medvedev needed a massage on his left thigh before proceeding to his on-court interview.
Rublev won a gruelling 43-shot rally in the sixth game of the second set before he slumped down beside his towel on the side of the court.
Despite what the scoreline might suggest, Medvedev felt the match was “high-quality” and said he would have no problem to go out for a drink or dinner with Rublev later on Wednesday.
“Both of us were (cramping),” Medvedev told reporters. “It’s the first time to be honest I saw Andrey that tired, so good from my side because he’s practising with his coach, I think, five hours per day non-stop, never tired.
“We always laugh about him, that he’s like a battery, like Duracell or something. I actually managed to get him tired.
“It was the first really hot day… I was cramping a little bit at the end, but seeing the shape Andrey was, and he’s one of the most physical guys on tour, it’s just normal.” (Reuters)