Nadal shows courage and class with five-set win

After two sets Rafael Nadal had this match won. His opponent was imploding, he was controlling the court and cruising to a semi-final. After four sets he looked to be biliously staggering to defeat.

25/01/2022 11:52:00 AM

After two sets Rafael Nadal had this match won. His opponent was imploding, he was controlling the court and cruising to a semi-final. After four sets he looked to be biliously staggering to defeat | SMHsport

After two sets Rafael Nadal had this match won. His opponent was imploding, he was controlling the court and cruising to a semi-final. After four sets he looked to be biliously staggering to defeat.

Credit:Plainly unwell and physically struggling Nadal, who was regularly bent over on his racquet as the game stretched on, needed a lengthy medical time-out at the end of that fourth set before returning to find something when it mattered and halt the momentum of the young Canadian.

Rafael Nadal talks to medical staff during a break in the quarter-final clash.Nadal said he began to feel unwell in the stomach from the heat and needed a tablet from the trainers and was checked by the doctors and was still only “so-so” after the game.

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SMHsport Frankly an insult to all the suffering in this country to use the word courage to describe anyone playing a ridiculous sport hitting a ball over a net.

Then in a display of guile and maturity he crafted a way to win. Maybe it was the treatment for a stomach complaint kicking in but and Denis Shapovalov’s game, not for the first time, frayed. Nadal won 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in more than four hours. An exhausted Rafael Nadal takes in the moment after downing Denis Shapovalov. Credit: Nadal might not win this Australian Open and break clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for grand slams won for Daniil Medvedev still stands on the other side of the draw as the most obvious stumbling block, but just making the semi-finals here after that five-set performance was a champion display. Plainly unwell and physically struggling Nadal, who was regularly bent over on his racquet as the game stretched on, needed a lengthy medical time-out at the end of that fourth set before returning to find something when it mattered and halt the momentum of the young Canadian. “I was completely destroyed. Very, very tough day, very warm. I don’t know, I was a bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth set,” Nadal said. “At the beginning of the match I was playing great. A player like Denis, very talented, very aggressive, he was serving huge especially on his second serve.” Rafael Nadal talks to medical staff during a break in the quarter-final clash. Credit: AP Nadal said he began to feel unwell in the stomach from the heat and needed a tablet from the trainers and was checked by the doctors and was still only “so-so” after the game. “I was lucky I was serving great in the fifth,” he said. Advertisement Unlike previous years there is a two-day break now before the semi-finals. Nadal was glad of the longer break. “I am not 21 any more so for this match it’s great to have two days off,” he said. For two sets Shapovalov said more than he did on court. Then he shut up and said a whole lot more with his tennis. He began the game angry and ended it slamming his racquet into the court. Ultimately, he was beaten by his own immaturity and intemperance and Nadal’s maturity and guts. Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov talk at the net. Credit: Getty Images Shapovalov began the game wound up and frustrated. He argued with the chair umpire and gave all chair umpires for that matter a drive-by when he told the chair “you are all corrupt”. With the heat and the frustration of playing Nadal, Shapovalov complained about the star treatment afforded Nadal in not being violated for time-wasting, then decided it was corruption and not just by this umpire but all umpires. He was a bit wound up. Denis Shapovalov. Credit: Getty Images Implicit in his outburst at the umpire was a sledge of Nadal not just umpires. Shapovalov seemingly wanted to give a verbal backhander to Nadal given that at the time he was struggling to land an actual backhander on the court. He was angry that the twitchy fastidious Nadal was stringing out the time between points and was not being penalised. After the second outburst and exchange with the umpire, Nadal ran to the net to mollify the Canadian who was cranky with everyone but himself. Everyone and everything else seemed to be to blame for the way he was playing. Then he seemed to realise he had to pull his head in and his game began to click. He stopped making as many unforced errors and his big shots started to land. Nadal, meanwhile, was struggling on serve. Throughout he served 11 double faults. And Shapovalov was starting to punish him with returns and emboldened, his own serves began to land. His problem throughout was that he gave up too many easy points and games with 51 unforced errors. Nadal is now through to his 36th grand slam semi-final (still short of Federer’s 46 and Djokovic’s 42) and his seventh semi-final in Melbourne. After the first two sets that seemed to be a pleasing formality. After fours sets it seemed disappointingly unlikely. After five sets it was just a class act. Watch all the action from Melbourne Park on Nine, 9Gem, and 9Now. News, results and expert analysis from the weekend of sport sent every Monday.