The greatest ever clay court tennis player and one of the overall best players to date in the history of sport, Rafa Nadal, came so close to yet another record only to have it smashed away by one of the rising stars of the new generation, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in Melbourne yesterday.
Until yesterday, unlike Djokovic, who nobody is quite sure if he is injured or not, although he is certainly a little tense after his outburst on Tuesday, Nadal had not dropped a set in Australia, in fact, Nadal was within one set of Roger Federer’s record (36) for most consecutive sets won in grand slams - when disaster struck.
Nadal played flawless tennis through nearly three sets, his Greek opponent did well just to have stayed alive in the third and reach a tie-break when the unthinkable happened.
Five unforced errors in a horror tie-break allowed Tsitsipas to claw his way back into the quarter-final match-up, and more importantly, saw Nadal’s shot at history crumble. None of the players had the best build up to the tournament, two weeks in quarantine and then fans banned after a Covid scare, but those who showed up wanted to play and play their very best tennis. Will Djokovic lift the trophy again? I doubt it and we’ll have to wait and see how Nadal responds. He will be sad but he is a true fighter and he will be back.
But, the next generation is hot on their heels.