'Completely destroyed': Rafael Nadal survives gruelling Aus Open scare

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Rafael Nadal won his Australian Open quarter final against Denis Shapovalov, but not without requiring five sets and some medical assistance along the way. Pictures: Getty Images
Rafael Nadal won his Australian Open quarter final against Denis Shapovalov, but not without requiring five sets and some medical assistance along the way. Pictures: Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has battled his way out of a gripping five-set arm-wrestle against Canada's Denis Shapovalov to move through to the Australian Open semi-finals.

The match became a surprisingly gruelling encounter after Nadal breezed through the opening two sets, with only an argument between Shapovalov and the chair umpire delaying the first half of the match.

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In the third set however, Shapovalov manage to regain his footing amid the scorching heat at Melbourne Park, while the usually stoic Nadal appeared to begin to struggle.

Any hope of a straight sets win for Nadal was put to bed when he complained to the chair umpire of a stomach problem.

He limped through the third and fourth sets, often draped in cold towels, but came back with a vengeance after a medical timeout and some tablets.

The Spaniard won the final set in short order, prompting Shapovalov to smash his racquet after losing match point, leaving it broken on the Rod Laver Arena court and walking out.

Speaking after the match, Nadal admitted he had been in serious trouble as temperatures soared well above 30 degrees.

“I was completely destroyed after that. It was a very tough day, very warm,” he said.

“I am not 21 anymore. After this match it is great to have two days off.

“I really believe I’m going to be ready for the semi-finals. It means everything to me.”

Now just two wins away from potentially holding the men's record grand for the most grand slam wins ever, Nadal said after a difficult year of rehab in 2021 he was simply happy to be back on court.

“Two months ago we didn’t know if we would be able to be back on tour, at all,” he said.

“So, here I am. For me, it is a present of life that I am playing tennis again.”

Nadal's win over Shapovalov not without controversy

After losing the first set to Nadal 6-3, an irritated Shapovalov approached the chair umpire to complain about the length of time Nadal was taking in between serves, calling on the chair umpire to issue him a violation.

The terse exchange ended with Shapovalov fuming after complaining that Nadal wasn't ready to play, to which the umpire responded by suggesting the Canadian was not ready either, considering he had approached their chair.

His comment was not taken kindly by the World No. 14.

"Are you kidding me? You guys are all corrupt. You guys are all corrupt," he said, before turning back to the baseline.

Denis Shapovalov was furious at Rafael Nadal over the time he was taking between points, arguing with both he and the chair umpire amid his frustrations. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images
Denis Shapovalov was furious at Rafael Nadal over the time he was taking between points, arguing with both he and the chair umpire amid his frustrations. Pictures: Channel 9/Getty Images

A further few points were played after that, but Shapovalov's frustration didn't subside.

The tension eventually prompted a conversation between the two, with Nadal beckoning his opponent to the net for a chat.

Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas has also quietly made his way into the last eight at Melbourne Park.

After undergoing elbow surgery in November, Tsitsipas dropped his opening match at the ATP Cup on arrival down under in early January to Diego Schwartzman.

At that point, the Greek world No.4 was unsure if he would even make it to the Australian Open.

But things have been on the up and up ever since for Tsitsipas, who reached his first major final at last year's French Open before going down in five tight sets to Novak Djokovic.

The 23-year-old was taken to five sets by American Tyler Fritz in the round of 16 but is now just one win away from a third appearance in the Open semis in the past four years.

Standing in his way in the quarter-finals is Italian sensation Jannik Sinner, who outclassed the host nation's last man standing Alex de Minaur in straight sets in the fourth round.

"So far I have been doing what I do best, fighting in every single match and giving my soul out there," said the fourth-seeded Tsitsipas.

"I don't like making any predictions, and I usually get them wrong, simply because I'm too concentrated on what I am doing and not so much on others.

"So I would predict that I'm headed towards the right direction and things look good for me so far.

"With the right mindset and with the right attitude and with the right development throughout the tournament, my chances are pretty good."

With AAP

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