Rafael Nadal is just two wins away from breaking clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in Grand Slam history. The 25-year-old Spaniard, who is aiming to win the Australian Open for the first time in 13 years, defeated Denis Shapovalov in an epic five-set match. In a titanic quarterfinal tussle that lasted four hours and eight minutes, Nadal emerged victorious by the margin of 6-3,6-4,4-6,3-6,6-3. He will face either Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils in the semifinal.
With Djokovic and Federer dominating in Melbourne for close to a decade, Nadal has always played second fiddle. This is the seventh time that he has reached the semi-final and will now be desperate to match Djokovic. He will become the second player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slam titles twice if he wins the Australian Open.
Nadal was cruising by winning the first two sets 6-3,6-4 but Shapovalov came back in grand style. He won the next two games as both players traded blow-for-blow.
However, the match started off in a tense way. Nadal was accused by Shapovalov of slow play. In the Australian Open, there is a device that measures the time taken for each point. Shapovalov was unhappy with how long Nadal was taking to recover. The 14th seed was feeling that the Spaniard was receiving special treatment and told chair umpire Carlos Bernardes: “You’re looking at the clock so long ago and he’s still not ready to play. You’ve got to code him.”
The umpire was not interested in Shapovalov’s complaint and stated that Nadal was not ready. This led to a fiery outburst that went viral on social media. “Are you kidding me? You are all corrupt”. Nadal attempted to diffuse the situation by going to the net to talk to his opponent, as tension levels on the court quickly rose.
The match was marred by a health issue to Rafael Nadal in the fourth set. He had to receive medical attention but the Spaniard maintained his composure. The medical attention that Nadal received at the end of the fourth set suggested that all was not well. But, Nadal revealed that he was not feeling well since yesterday. It made him so sick that he could not practice.
“I started to feel not well in my stomach. They checked everything was all right with my body. I took some tablets to try and improve my stomach,” Nadal said.