'That’s when the opportunity to play doubles with Rafael Nadal...', says former ace

Rafael Nadal entered the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 14th time

by Simone Brugnoli
'That’s when the opportunity to play doubles with Rafael Nadal...', says former ace

Adrian Mannarino, at least as long as the body held up, seriously put Rafael Nadal in trouble. In the first set, the Frenchman played flawlessly and forced the 20-time Grand Slam champion to resort to the tie-break; a tiebreaker that turned out to be epic.

Mannarino had four set points, but it was Nadal who closed at 16-14 on the seventh chance his opponent gave him. During the tie-break, the Frenchman injured his adductor and did not resist in the next two sets. “Certainly there have been points where I should have made a different decision.

These are decisions that are made in a short time, it's a shame, but overall I think I made a good first set. At the time of the drop shot I injured my adductor. I felt a strong discomfort. From that point on, I could no longer run normally and couldn't find balance.

If I had made a better decision when I hit the dropshot, I could have won the set, but I think after that exchange the outcome of the match became clear," the Frenchman explained at the press conference. "It was something unexpected, I felt fine physically.

I can't say I saw the injury coming, but it's true that the first three games of the tournament were physically demanding. It's frustrating, but it's something that can happen when you play. a Grand Slam against the best players.

We will never know what would have happened if I had played the point differently. Nadal served very well. His service is often overlooked, but it is an extremely dangerous blow. It is very difficult to play against it. On the important points he had no problems, this is the difference between good players and the best."

Rafael Nadal entered the Australian Open quarterfinals

Speaking in an exclusive interview with ATPTour.com, Marc Lopez expanded on the new professional relationship he has undertaken with his long-time friend.

The 39-year-old revealed that after the initial shock, he gradually grew accustomed to his coaching role. "I’ve shared many moments with Rafael Nadal, but as a friend. Now it’s different. I found it a bit difficult to give instructions to a player who is close to perfection.

Although I always say that from the outside, there are things that can be improved," Lopez said. "I know Rafa very well. I’ve been watching his matches for many years and I know what he’s thinking when he plays. I feel obliged to tell him things because I want the best for him." From being a singles player up to that point, Lopez made the switch to playing doubles and ended up winning a Grand Slam at the 2016 French Open.

"When [the 2008] season was over, I was going through a difficult time in my career. I considered stopping. I didn’t know what to do," Lopez said. "That’s when the opportunity to play doubles with Rafa in Doha came up. That's when I realized I was good at doubles. We won the tournament, beating the World No. 1 pair on the way."

Rafael Nadal Australian Open