May 20, 2022 4:12 pm

Nadal survives Shapovalov and reaches the semifinals



Congratulations Rafael Nadal of having physically reached the quarterfinal round of the
Australian Open
. He confirmed that yes, physically he is more than alive after surviving a four-hour beating against Denis Shapovalov to reach the semi-finals. A marathon not only of tennis, but also of knowing how to suffer and endure against an opponent who, like many of the very good tennis players whose last names are not Nadal, Federer or Djokovic, lack that last little step of conviction when playing on the limit (6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 and 6-3).

Nadal, seventh semifinals, gave another lesson of who Nadal is. When the body seems to reach its last reserves, the head directs the point and ambition does the rest.

The Balearic has not been going from less to more in tournaments for a long time. He has been listening to his body for a long time and it demands more adrenaline from the beginning. More speed to get ahead on the scoreboard. More force in the first bars so that the contest does not drag on, so that preserve the physique of the wear and tear that used to suit you just fine when you’re younger. And it is not the 35 of his DNI but for everything he already has in his professional career.

And everything seemed so. Controlled with two sets in his favor with his game, at his own pace, even comfortable. But the Canadian reacted, in a big way, to bomb from the bottom, raised and grown in the remains and impose on Nadal a demanding and marathon test. His shots, pure adrenaline, bombarded the Spaniard from the bottom, who was unable to keep up, because of what the Canadian was proposing and because of what his body weighed on him.

«From the third set I have begun to feel tired. Something was wrong with my stomach. But I’ve always been there mentally», he analyzed later. Also in the fourth set he had to impose his head, lowering the tension, seeing how his serve disappeared double fault after double fault. So he saved energy, what he had left, for a fifth in which his mental strength gave another master class. There was no other way to survive to the script of the Canadian, who took the opportunity to hammer, a range of projectiles from one side and the other.

However, he lacked that which the Spaniard has plenty of: courage, patience, resources when everything seems to be failing, even when stomach problems torment you. The number 5 in the world concentrated on his own services, took advantage of the fact that the Canadian saw that he could be the winner of this battle and got confused at the beginning, small disturbances that allowed him to add the first two games. With a break, Nadal adjusted the serve. The fewer shots, the more options he would have to hold on until the end. The first serve began to come out. He got carried away in the wreckage. And in the end, Shoapovalov’s right hand goes out, arms in the air, the Spaniard, smiling, relieved, exhausted, in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Shapovalov still has to adjust that unleashed energy. That not knowing how to close when everything seems in your favor. That play in the present and not in the future. Aware that he had lost a great opportunity to beat Nadal and reach the semifinals, his racket was left in the middle of the court, destroyed. Like Nadal.

“I am broken. I don’t know how I got back. I had a bit of luck at the beginning of the fifth set. He is very talented, very aggressive. I have had stomach problems, something due to tension perhaps; I wanted to make sure everything was okay. I think I was lucky to serve well in the fifth because I’m still a little regular, “he said. «I am not 21 years old and it is important for me to have these rest days now. It has been a great test. I hope to be ready for the next match. For me it is one more opportunity to be here at Rod Laver.”

“We can create history. Two months ago I didn’t know if I could play on the circuit again. And I am here”. Two steps away from Grand Slam number 21. After another resurrection trick.

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