Rafael Nadal: Spaniard on stomach issue and being ‘completely destroyed’ during quarter-final win
He battled a stomach problem, the heat and, of course, Denis Shapovalov to reach the semi-final of the Australia Open and naturally Rafael Nadal was delighted with his effort.
It was a titanic five-set battle in searing conditions against the Canadian on Rod Laver Arena with the match lasting just over four hours.
Nadal initially looked like he would run away with the match as he opened a two-set lead, but errors started to creep in and Shapovalov upped his game to take it to five sets.
In the end, it was the 20-time Grand Slam winner who came out on top of the 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 scoreline to secure his place in the semi-final at Melbourne Park for a seventh time.
One for the ages ✨
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2022
One break of serve in each of the first two sets put Nadal in cruise control and he had a glimpse of a break in the opening game of the third set. He failed to capitalise and Shapovalov broke in game 10 before another single break in game four of the fourth set took them to a decider.
An early break in game two set Nadal on the way to a marathon victory.
“I was completely destroyed after that,” the sixth seed said. “Very tough day, very warm. Honestly I did not practice for it. I was a little bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth.
“At the beginning of the match I was playing great [tennis, but] I know how difficult it is to play against a player like Denis. He’s very talented, very aggressive. He was surviving huge and especially the second serve.
“I had my chances at the beginning of the third with 0-30 then 15-30 with a passing shot down the line. I didn’t get it and then I started to feel a little more tired and then he pushed me.
“For me it’s amazing to be in the semi-finals.”
The 35-year-old battled with stomach problem in the fourth set and had to seek medical attention, but in the end he survived.
“I started to feel not very well in my stomach so I asked for something, they took the tension, checked everything was all right in my body and some tablets to try and improve my stomach – so-so, I think I was lucky I was serving great in the fifth,” the former world No 1 said.
“I am not 21 anymore, after this match it is great to have two days off. I felt quite good physically in terms of movement but the conditions haven’t been that hot.
He added: “For me it is everything to be able to play one more time in that semi-finals match.
“We can create history but the real truth is two months ago we didn’t know if we would be back on tour at all, so it is just a present of life I am here playing tennis again and enjoying it.”
The Spaniard will face either Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils in the semi-final.
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