Rafael Nadal made his career-best start of the season at Majors after conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Nadal played only two matches after the last year's Roland Garros and made a fresh start in 2022. Rafa won his first Australian Open crown since 2009, overpowering a couple of challenging obstacles and lifting the 21st Major crown.
Nadal had to give his everything in the quarter-final against Denis Shapovalov, prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and eight minutes at Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard struggled with stomach issues since the fourth set and barely survived a challenging encounter under a boiling Melbourne sun.
The more experienced player claimed the opening three games of the decider to forge the crucial advantage and bring the victory home. As was expected, Rafa praised Denis and his fighting abilities after the match, saying it was tough and that he left the court completely destroyed.
Nadal lost four kilos and looked forward to two days off. The Spaniard served on a high level in the opening two sets and delivered two breaks to forge a massive advantage. Shapovalov raised his level in set number three and grabbed a late break to introduce the fourth set and improve his chances.
Nadal needed a timeout to deal with the stomach pain, taking pills and hoping to feel better. Denis broke in the fourth game and saved break points at 5-3 to wrap up the set and force a decider.
Rafael Nadal gave his everything to beat Denis Shapovalov in Melbourne.
The Canadian failed to seize that momentum at the start of the decider.
He squandered his chances in games one and three and got broken at 0-1 to find himself on the wrong side of the clock. Rafa served well in the rest of the encounter to emerge at the top and find himself in the semi-final. "Honestly, I do not know how I won this one.
I'm completely destroyed at the moment. I was a bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth set, bringing the win home from there. I played great in the opening two sets and then struggled against a strong rival. Denis is very talented and serves and plays with a lot of aggression.
It feels great to be back in the semi-final. I have two days off now, which is crucial at this event stage. I'm not 21 anymore, and it's great for me to have more time for rest after such a demanding marathon," Rafael Nadal said.