Rafael Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title came came crashing to a halt at the Australian Open as Stefanos Tsitsipas rose to the occasion and defeated the Spaniard 3-6,2-6,7-6(4),6-4,7-5.
The Greek joins Fabio Fognini in the exclusive club of players to beat Nadal from two sets down at a major championship. The Italian claimed a 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Nadal at the 2015 US Open.
But later, Nadal refused to blame the unusual build-up to the coronavirus-disrupted slam for his surprise loss.
“We can find excuses or reasons, or maybe this quarantine that we need to spend more time in the room than usual“, he said.
“But I’m not the guy that’s going to find excuses on that or going to complain about what happened, no. Just accept. I never considered myself an unlucky person at all. Doesn’t matter the injuries that I had. I think I am a very lucky person.“
Nadal also spoke about tennis in these adverse circumstances: “It’s tough for the players, of course… but on the other hand, if we stop the tour, why and how and when we will be able to come back? And a lot of jobs are gonna suffer a lot.“
“We need to think a little bit bigger… we need to find solutions and we need to adapt to this very tough times that we are facing.“, he added.
“Tennis isn’t a sport that is fair”: Rafael Nadal
The 34-year-old has now lost in the quarter-finals two years running, having been outplayed by eventual finalist Dominic Thiem last year. Reflecting on his loss against the Greek, Nadal said that he has no excuses and gave his best.
“Just another story in my tennis career“, Nadal told the reporters in the press-conference.
“That’s it. Another match I lost here in Australia with an important advantage. [I] just accept and keep going. That’s the life.“
He continued: “I am playing against one of the best players of the world, so you always have to expect the best from the opponent and be ready for anything.“
The world no.2 denied he was short of fitness as Tsitsipas took their match into a fifth set. It has now been 12 years since Nadal lifted the trophy in Melbourne. He sighed when he was asked whether he was cursed Down Under.
“No, no, no. Not at all feeling unlucky for me and not at all am I complaining about my luck here in Australia. Everyone have what [they] deserve.” he said.
“Tennis isn’t a sport that is fair. I have what I deserved in my career, and over here in Australia I had chances, but I was not able to convert it. That’s all. I didn’t deserve more“, he added.
The 20-time grand slam champion will move further and regroup. He will next target his 21st at his favorite major, the French Open.
“Life continues. I hope to keep having chances. Well, I [am] going to keep fighting for it.“, he concluded.