Rafael Nadal won his second Australian Open crown this year, his first in 13 years. Twelve months ago, the Spaniard suffered a heavy defeat at Melbourne Park, falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 in four hours and five minutes in the quarter-finals.
Nadal injured his back in Adelaide a few weeks earlier and didn’t know what to expect in Melbourne. Still, he defeated four rivals in straight sets to advance to the final eight, where he opened up a huge lead against Tsitsipas.
However, the Greek survived the third set tie break, gained momentum and defeated the Spaniard to deliver one of Rafa’s most brutal Majors defeats! Nadal kept everything under control in the first two sets and had the opportunity to close the deal in the third, before making some mistakes in the tie break.
Stefanos was already playing well after the second set, gaining momentum in the third and never looking back on his service games. The pressure was on Rafa in sets four and five, and he couldn’t take it after losing the drive.
He was 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 the lead, and the second in Majors!
Rafael Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets at Melbourne 2021.
Rafa lost his rhythm a little with his ground strokes from the fourth set onwards.
Simultaneously, Stefanos threw everything he had at his opponent, delivering one good grip after another and completing his most notable career win. Sharing his thoughts on the encounter, Mats Wilander believed that Nadal would be fine in a few weeks, knowing he was playing at a high level and expecting the clay to swing with positive vibes.
The Swede noted Nadal’s bad luck as he tried to close the deal in straight sets, throwing some loose kicks and losing ground to suffer a tough defeat. “Rafa will probably be out for two or three weeks. He wasn’t able to win the Australian Open after the 2009 single crown, and I think he’s going to shrug it off and realise, ‘Maybe I wasn’t physically strong enough to keep that. level up.’
He was going to big shots; it’s not him, and it didn’t work. Rafa will go back to the practice court, hit some balls and realize that she is on the same level as last year’s Roland Garros. He played very well against Tsitsipas, and it was bad luck that he couldn’t cross the finish line first,” said Mats Wilander.