Rafael Nadal had everything under control against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-final on Wednesday. The 20-time Major champion had the upper hand over the young Greek in the opening two sets, losing only five games and sailing towards the finish line.
Instead of that, Tsitsipas found his A-game from set number three, standing strong behind the initial shot and prevailing in the decisive moments to score a massive 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory in four hours and five minutes!
Shifting into a higher gear from that third set, Stefanos managed to control the rallies and his service games, reaching a tie break and winning it 7-4 for a massive boost of confidence. Nadal made some loose smash errors in the breaker, and they would cost him dearly, as he couldn't play on the highest level in the rest of the clash, hanging in but not doing enough to clinch one more set and avoid a defeat.
Tim Henman backs Rafael Nadal to chase big titles in the rest of the season.
The pressure was on Rafa in sets four and five, and he couldn't endure it after losing the drive, getting broken once in each to propel the young Greek over the finish line and hit the exit door.
It was only the third defeat for the great Spaniard after taking two sets to love lead and the second at Majors, failing to make an extra step against Roger Federer in Miami 2005 and Fabio Fognini at the US Open 2016. Rafa lost the pace a bit with his groundstrokes from the fourth set and struggled more and more on the return.
Simultaneously, Stefanos threw everything he had on his opponent, delivering one good hold after another and completing his most remarkable career victory to advance into the second Australian Open semi-final in three years.
Speaking about the match, Tim Henman said it was Nadal's massive defeat, although he expects to see the Spaniard back at his best and chase the notable titles in the rest of the season. Rafa is trying to win the 21st Major crown and move in front of Roger Federer.
"Rafa will be fine. It's a massively disappointing defeat, but he has been around for so long. He is so experienced and has amazing highs; this will be disappointing, but there will be many more opportunities ahead of him this year. If he's fit and healthy, then I'm sure he can be back winning big events in the future," Tim Henman said.