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The 4 keys to Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Australian Open comeback over Rafael Nadal

MELBOURNE, Australia — World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas joined an illustrious membership in Wednesday’s Australian Open quarterfinal. The Greek joined Roger Federer and Fabio Fognini as the one gamers to ever come from two units right down to defeat 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.

Tsitsipas appeared misplaced via a lot of the first three units of his quarterfinal towards Nadal, however someway managed to financial institution the third set tiebreaker.

From that time, his confidence rose, as did his talent stage, and after 4 hours, 5 minutes, Tsitsipas accomplished probably the most tough duties in tennis, within the course of reserving a spot within the Australian Open semifinals for the second time in his profession.

“I feel an extra connection with this court,” Tsitsipas stated after his 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 win. “I’ve had moments that have elevated me and moments I will never forget.”

Listed below are the 4 moments that led to Tsitsipas’ sensational win.

The health issue

Tsitsipas didn’t must take to the court docket for his fourth-round conflict towards Matteo Berrettini after the Italian withdrew an hour out from their contest, citing a nagging stomach harm.

With a free move via to the final eight, Tsitsipas spent Monday night having a short observe hit on one in every of Melbourne’s present courts, a far much less strenuous tour than if he’d come up towards the world No. 9.

Plus, contemplating Tsitsipas is 12 years youthful than Nadal, it is clear he went into the quarterfinal the more energizing of the 2, although with out rapid match health, one thing that confirmed early on. The No. 5 seed Tsitsipas did not get a take a look at a single break level alternative via the opening three units, the primary two which Nadal gained simply.

Third-set tiebreaker

It appeared as if Nadal could be off the court docket, showered and again to his resort room properly earlier than midnight, when he started the quarterfinal in comparable style that received him to that time. In spite of everything, he had made it this far with out dropping a set.

He and Tsitsipas held serve all through the third to drive a tiebreaker. After falling behind 2-1, Tsitsipas appeared to throw warning to the wind and try one thing he hadn’t carried out all match: overpower Nadal.

“I really didn’t care, honestly. I played with no care,” Tsitsipas stated after the match. “It increased the level of tennis I put out there.”

He struck the ball with aggression and ferociousness, forcing Nadal deep within the court docket and into making some uncharacteristic errors.

“I think in the third he already started to play much better and I missed a couple of balls in the tiebreak that I shouldn’t,” Nadal stated. “I could not miss if I wanted to win, and that’s it.”

From 2-1 down, Tsitsipas gained 5 of the following six factors earlier than taking the tiebreaker 7-4. That was the catalyst for the comeback.

The service recreation issue

Nadal was dominant on serve all through, not permitting his opponent even one break level alternative within the first three units.

However after taking the tiebreak, Tsitsipas tightened up his service video games as properly, not permitting Nadal a break level alternative for the remainder of the match.

Holding serve was key to Tsitsipas’ efficiency. From the beginning of the third set onward, he gained an astonishing 75 of 94 factors whereas on serve, dominating one of many best gamers to select up a racket.

Tsitsipas lastly compelled a break within the ninth recreation of the fourth set, which in the end despatched it to a decider. Within the fifth, Tsitsipas had only one break level likelihood — and he took it.

Last recreation

When Tsitsipas broke Nadal to take a 6-5 fifth-set lead, it appeared the Spaniard was on his method out of Melbourne Park.

However Tsitsipas left the door open for Nadal to counter when he opened the next service recreation with two unforced errors.

That is when Tsitsipas delivered precisely what he wanted: a 1-2 mixture to drive a Nadal error and back-to-back aces to convey up match level.

He could not capitalize on his first match level, however at deuce, Tsitsipas painted the service field line together with his first serve, giving Nadal no likelihood of returning the ball into play. On his second match level, Tsitsipas used a surprising down-the-line backhand to finish the comeback.

“I wasn’t really thinking about a lot of things,” Tsitsipas stated. “I was … just there, playing — not thinking. I was mainly focused on each single serve, each single shot. At the third set I changed some things, changed my patterns, took some more time … these things kept adding up. I brainstormed.”

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