The legendary Rafael Nadal is firmly awaiting the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, one of the most talented players of the new generation this Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
The poster promises. Commitment, power, effects, heart, play, guts. A total confrontation. Left-handed versus right-handed. Old versus new generation. Melbourne hopes, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, to experience a peak of play and emotions between Rafael Nadal (34 years old; seeded no.2) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (22 years old; seeded no. 5).
Rafael Nadal tiptoed into the Australian Open. Upset by persistent back pain that forced him to change his service gesture. More than any other, Rafael Nadal loves routine, habits, they build his daily life. But more than any other, the Spaniard has learned to live with pain, to deal with injuries. He knows how to grit his teeth. So in Melbourne, he tried to stay on track. More or less convincing. But with a proven method. That of unfailing involvement. The Serbian Laslo Djere, the American Michael Mmoh, the Briton Cameron Norrie and the Italian Fabio Fognini who paid the price did not pose any insoluble problems. The head of series n ° 2 let slip only 36 games (not the least set). 9 average; 3 per set played. Each passing day was to help him rebuild a strong back, a physique capable of withstanding repeated efforts. After worrying, Rafael Nadal should be able to compete with Stefanos Tsitsipas. Rejuvenated: “Things change quickly in sport. Sometimes you feel like you’re a bit like this, like that, then you win a few games and you feel your best. ”
Stefanos Tsitsipas from the outset imposed his ambition, his strength, dismissing with great authority Gilles Simon who had never been dispatched in this way 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 during his long career in Grand Slam. The aplomb of a candidate for the last four then came up against the ardor of a ghost Thanasi Kokkinakis, tamed in extremis 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5 / 7), 6-4. His first victory in straight sets. The Greek (seeded n ° 5) then regained his cruising speed against the Swede Mikael Ymer 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. Before taking advantage of Matteo Berrettini’s package. A package which, in a Grand Slam, is a double-edged sword. This offers respite but it cuts off the dynamics of the competition. “I think it’s useful for Stefanos, there’s no doubt about it. When you go to play against Nadal, you have to have a full tank, full of energy, ”summed up Tim Henman on Eurosport. Stefanos Tsitsipas therefore advances with force but without a part of the benchmarks represented by the repetition of high level shocks. However, he will have to be ready for entry because Rafael Nadal, if his physique leaves him alone, will not give him time to regain his marks. With the Spaniard, there is never an observation round. The fight starts with the gong.
Face to face
Rafael Nadal leads 6 wins to 1. The Spaniard had his only defeat on… clay, in the semi-finals in Madrid in 2019. The Spaniard and the Greek only met once in the Grand Slam, in 2019 in the semifinals of the Australian Open. After a beautiful tournament (during which he had eliminated Roger Federer in the round of 16) which had thrown him on the front of the stage, Stefanos Tsitsipas had hit a wall. He had lost 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 to the ruthless and often unplayable Rafael Nadal when the final rounds of the Grand Slam tournaments unfold their unique setting and intensity.
Rafael Nadal : “I can’t wait to play this quarter-final match. If we compare the situation in which I was five days ago and that of today, it is different, and my point of view and my enthusiasm are also completely different ”, assures the“ bull of Manacor ”reinvigorated .
Stefanos Tsitsipas : “A great match, I fought like a lion. I fought like a real warrior, and it was an incredible ending with a lot of emotion and determination. ” (After his victory in straight sets against Tsitsipas).
Rafael Nadal is present in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the 13e times in 16 participations. It has 1 title (2009) and 4 unfortunate finals. He can, in case of coronation, overtake Roger Federer and become the first player of the Open era to win at least twice each Grand Slam tournament.
Stefanos Tsitsipas who will live his 3e semi-final in Grand Slam (during the last, at Roland Garros in October, he had pushed Novak Djokovic in straight sets but diminished at the end of the match, he could not defend his chances) can him in case of successes chained until the title, become the youngest player winner since Novak Djokovic in 2008. He is not there yet. The obstacles will follow one another. He has to go over Rafael Nadal’s body …