For the 2nd year in a row, Rafael Nadal walked out of the scene in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Last year it was Thiem who beat the Spaniard, this year it was Tsitsipas who came back to the 20-time Grand Slam champion from 0-2.
For the Spaniard this is the third defeat in his career at the Grand Slam level after being in the lead 2-0. Here are the five worst losses of Nadal's career. To find one of the Spaniard's worst career defeats, you have to go back to 2005, to the final of the Master 1000 in Miami, which at the time was still 3 out of 5.
Federer is already four-time Grand Slam champion, while Nadal is a young promise of Spanish tennis, which in a few months would win its first Roland Garros. The two had crossed paths for the first time a year earlier on these same fields, and surprisingly the Spaniard had won.
In the 2005 final the Iberian went 2-0, but failed to close in the 3rd set tie-break. Federer recovers and dominates the next two sets, winning the title. Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle, and former long-time coach, recently published a column where he tried to break down the quarterfinal match.
The 59-year-old praised Tsitsipas for his resilience, which was on display from the third set.
Toni Nadal reflects on Rafael's defeat
“But from the third set, the intensity that Rafael Nadal had shown so far was subsided and allowed his rival to recover and equalize both the game and the score,” Toni Nadal wrote.
Toni Nadal acknowledged how Rafa held tight in the first two sets. He was dominant and allowed Tsitsipas little room to showcase his skills. However, the scenario changed in the third set when the Greek star rectified his mistakes from the opening sets.
“And so a tie break was reached in which Rafael accused the errors that he had not made in the first two sets of the match, and that in the end had a triggering effect. He gave wings to Tsitsipas to continue fighting hard, to prevail in the next three sets, and thus earn his place in the semifinal,” Toni mentioned.
Over the last decade Rafael Nadal has been struck by some unfortunate problem or another in Melbourne, preventing him from adding to the sole title he has won Down Under. The 34-year-old, however, dismissed any claims of a 'curse'
"No, no, no," Nadal said. "Sometimes things go well, sometimes no. Unfortunately for me, I have had more injuries here than in the other places."