‘Exhilarating 21st Grand Slam’: Toni Nadal Urges Rafael Nadal to Focus on French Open After Australian Open Exit




Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open 2021 via a crushing loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. It was an agonizing defeat for the Spaniard, who squandered a two-set lead against Tsitsipas to face defeat. A wonderful comeback from the 22-year-old Greek player turned the tie around in his favor. 

The match ended in disappointment for Nadal, but in jubilation for Tsitsipas. He became just the second player to defeat Nadal after dropping the first two sets in a Grand Slam, which has got everyone analyzing where the Spaniard committed his mistakes. 

Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle, and former long-time coach, recently published a column where he tried to break down the quarterfinal match. The 59-year-old praised Tsitsipas for his resilience, which was on display from the third set. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 11, 2021 Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts during his second round match against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis REUTERS/Loren Elliott

“But from the third set, the intensity that Rafael had shown so far was subsided and allowed his rival to recover and equalize both the game and the score,” Toni Nadal wrote.

(Quotes translated from Spanish via Google)

Did Rafael Nadal give Tsitsipas too much breathing room?

Toni Nadal acknowledged how Rafa held tight in the first two sets. He was dominant and allowed Tsitsipas little room to showcase his skills. However, the scenario changed in the third set when the Greek star rectified his mistakes from the opening sets.

“And so a tie break was reached in which Rafael accused the errors that he had not made in the first two sets of the match, and that in the end had a triggering effect. He gave wings to Tsitsipas to continue fighting hard, to prevail in the next three sets, and thus earn his place in the semifinal,” Toni mentioned. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter final match against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Nadal lost a grip of the match as soon as he conceded the tie-break. That moment was enough for Tsitsipas, who capitalized on the moment brilliantly. Tsitsipas took the opportunity and raced to complete the three-set comeback.

“I kept hoping to see him get back into shape as the days went by,” Toni said of Rafa. “There is no other than to do the usual. Look ahead and start thinking about Paris now to chase down an exhilarating 21st Grand Slam trophy.”

It was a bitter loss indeed, and Nadal admitted that he was ‘sad’ to have lost the match in such a fashion. Had he won the Australian Open, Rafa would’ve become the first men’s player in the open era to win each Grand Slam twice! 

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