Rafael Nadal had everything under control against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-final. The 20-time Major champion had the upper hand over the young Greek in the opening two sets, losing only five games and looking good to seal the deal soon after that.
Instead, Tsitsipas found his A-game from set number three, delivering marvelous performance behind the initial shot and prevailing in the decisive moments to score a thrilling 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory in four hours and five minutes!
Shifting into a higher gear with his back pushed against the wall, Stefanos controlled his service games' pace in the third set to reach a tie break and win it 7-4 for a massive boost. Nadal made some loose smash errors in the breaker, and they would cost him dearly, as he couldn't regain the edge in the rest of the clash, hanging in but not doing enough to clinch one more set and avoid a severe defeat.
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. Nadal lost the pace a bit with his groundstrokes as the match went on and struggled more and more on the return to put Stefanos in the driving seat.
Rafael Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in fiver sets in Melbourne.
Simultaneously, Tsitsipas 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, Boris Becker said that he never saw Rafael Nadal looking that tired in the deciding set. For the German, Nadal has done an incredible job staying at the top for so many years considering his game style.
Also, Becker believes that things should become difficult for the Spaniard once he gets a step slower in the upcoming years. "The younger generations are not without hope when it comes to turning this situation around, and there was definitely some vulnerability in Nadal if we think forward to Paris.
His five-set defeat by Stefanos Tsitsipas will sting for some time and could even be a factor at the French Open. For the first time I can recall, Rafa looked really tired in that fifth set; he was beaten physically, and the others have seen that.
The Spaniard's style is so physical that it is going to take a toll. I am actually surprised that he has played to this incredibly high level for so long. While it would be foolish to bet against him for Paris, he will not be the same player when he gets that little step slower," Boris Becker said.