'What a comeback': Tennis world in disbelief over Rafa Nadal collapse

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal, pictured here in action at the Australian Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas came back from two sets down to beat Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. Image: Getty

Stefanos Tsitsipas has shocked the tennis world at the Australian Open, knocking out Rafael Nadal after coming back from a two-set deficit.

Tsitsipas completed one of the most extraordinary comebacks in Australian Open history on Wednesday night, beating the World No.2 3-6 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-5.

'DISBELIEF AND DISGUST': Uproar over Serena Williams' husband

'DIDN'T FEEL RIGHT': Australian Open champ's hidden health battle

It's just the second time in Nadal's 19-year career that he's lost a grand slam match after winning the first two sets.

Up two sets to love on Rod Laver Arena, Nadal appeared well on his way to a 35th grand slam semi-final until the Greek found his wings.

Tsitsipas hunkered down to pinch the third set in a tiebreak, then went on to claim the match of the tournament to set up a last-four showdown with Daniil Medvedev.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight on such a level," Tsitsipas said after the match.

"I don't know what happened after the third set, I flew like a little bird - everything was working for me."

The only time Nadal has coughed up a two-set lead at a major was against Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open.

He'd only lost one other Masters series match against Roger Federer the same way.

Tennis world in shock over Nadal collapse

An exceptional standard of tennis by Nadal in the first two sets gave little indication of the drama that was to unfold.

The 34-year-old looked almost untouchable, striking winner after winner, hitting just 12 unforced errors and not facing a break point.

Nadal then lost just a solitary point in his six service games in the third set but Tsitsipas refused to cede on his own delivery and took it to a tiebreaker.

A handful of Nadal mistakes then saw the match pivot.

Extracting two Nadal errors off smashes and a shanked forehand to bring up three set points, Tsitsipas took advantage of the second to bring the match alive.

Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, pictured here after their quarter-final clash at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas after their quarter-final clash at the Australian Open. (Photo by PAUL CROCK/AFP via Getty Images)

Opportunities became more frequent for Tsitsipas in the fourth set, the two-time grand slam semi-finalist eventually converting in the ninth game to help draw the match level.

His confidence continued to grow in the decider, Tsitsipas breaking Nadal to love in the 11th game and taking out the contest on his third match-point with a down-the-line winner.

The loss leaves Nadal equal with Federer on 20 grand slam wins, Novak Djokovic moving to 18 if he is victorious at Melbourne Park for the ninth time.

"Of course (I'm ) sad," Nadal said.

"I lost a match in the quarter-finals of an event that mean a lot to me.

"The Australian Open is one of my favourite events, without a doubt. So I missed an opportunity to be in the semi-finals again."

Nadal has won just one trophy here in 2009 - making for his least successful major while also having his share of bad luck including picking up an injury during the 2014 decider against Stan Wawrinka.

The tennis world was left in disbelief over the insane scenes.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.