Rafael Nadal endured a topsy-turvy fourth round match to make it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday (January 23).
Nadal beat Adrian Mannarino 7-6(14), 6-2, 6-2 to book his spot in the last eight of the opening Grand Slam of the season.
It was very much a game of two halves for Nadal and Mannarino. The first set went into a tie-break but few would have expected the drama that followed.
Neither of the two players managed to get that necessary two-point lead by the time the first player got to 7 points. And so the tie-break went on. And on and on.
Eventually Nadal managed to win two points on the trot when the scores were tied at 14-14. And even the veteran Spaniard admitted he got a bit lucky in the end.
“The first set had been very, very emotional,” Nadal said in the post-match ceremony. “Anything could happen there. I was a little bit lucky at the end.
“Everybody knows how mentally [tough] this game is. It was a tough one and after that crazy first set, I think it was so important the break at the beginning of the second set.”
But once the epic first set ended, it was business as usual for the 20-time Grand Slam winner. An early break of serve in the second set put him on course to an easy 6-2 win.
He wrapped up the third set too with minimal fuss. The only majorly noteworthy aspect of the third set was when the two traded breaks early on.
Nadal would finish the match with an ace, although he’d have liked it to last longer than the two hours and 40 minutes that it played out. Indeed, it says a lot that the first set was longer than the last two sets combined.
🤫 Don’t tell anyone…
The world No.5 defeats Adrian Mannarino 7-6(14) 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 40 minutes.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2022
Nadal will now compete in the quarterfinals against Denis Shapovalov, who bested Alexander Zverev in their fourth round match.
And Nadal is not in any mood to take his younger adversary lightly. Indeed, tennis fans around the world will be salivating at the prospect of a southpaw vs southpaw showdown.
“Shapovalov is a player with amazing potential,” Nadal previewed. “Everybody knows that when he’s playing well, it’s very difficult to stop him with [his] big serve, amazing forehand, and very quick.”