Rafa Roundup: Rafael Nadal Never Gives Up!

Photo via Tuts' Instagram
Photo via Instagram/tutskbooooo

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Nadal maintained his record of never losing to a qualifier at a Grand Slam championship, but his 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5 win kept fans on Rod Laver Arena on the edges of their seats.

His knees, back, wrist and appendix have all failed Rafael Nadal recently. On Wednesday, his stomach joined the list of ailments, but he gutted out a five-set victory, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5, to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

The rusty No. 3 seed was solid enough in his opening victory over Mikhail Youzhny, dropping only seven games, but against American qualifier Tim Smyczekin Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night, Rafa looked genuinely out of sorts. It was evident in his always-expressive brown eyes. And some obvious and ongoing stomach distress throughout the match.

Smyczek has won six Grand Slam matches in his career. Nadal has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Until late in the fifth set, Smyczek was the better player. Finally, he cracked. At 5-5 in the fifth set, two perfect Nadal passing shots and a Smyczek miss gave Nadal the break of serve he needed.

Photo via Instagram @wboollawntennis
Photo via Instagram @wboollawntennis

Hampered by his physical issues, the usually miserly Nadal made 53 unforced errors over the course of four hours and 12 minutes on a humid evening in Melbourne.

“In terms of feeling bad on the court, yes. Probably yes,” he said. “I was close to not continue because I felt that I was very dizzy. After the third, fourth, and fifth (sets), I tried to play much more aggressive, without running, no running anymore, and try to go for the winners. In terms of physically, at the end of the match I started to feel little bit better.”

But when Rafa let three match points go from 40-0, the cause for concern returned. A critical backhand down the line earned Nadal a fourth shot at victory, which he didn’t squander. “I’ve had a lot of tough moments on this court but I love Australia and the crowd,” said Nadal, who lived to play another day.

It was pretty clear Rafa didn’t have his best stuff. But it just shows the kind of player, the kind of champion he is because, you know, he was sick and not playing well. That was his C or D game. He found a way to win. So hats off to him. That’s why he’s one of the best.

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15 comments

  1. It was a nail biting and almost struck by heart attack match for me! The end match put tears in my eyes and I really can’t imagine tennis world without Rafa.,Thank God he won! I am one of the die hard fan of Rafa and it really breaks my heart to see Rafa suffers and tears.

  2. it is a great match to watch R 2 tennis. I am ardent fan o rafa. I am a novice to say that his service require extra attention. Let God be with u in all the matches to come in future. Dr Svasudevan Chennai 600040 india

  3. Rafa may enjoy a VERY LONG CAREER despite all of the health problems he’s suffered over the years, just like Serena Williams has. Serena has missed 11 slams due to injury or illness during her career, while Rafa has missed 7. Being off Tour for long periods of time while recuperating from various ailments can actually EXTEND a player’s career instead of shorten it. For quite a few years now, tennis pundits and “experts” have been predicting Rafa’s imminent demise, yet he continues to prove them wrong again & again & again. Long live King Rafa. VAMOS!!!

  4. I leave in South East Asia, actually it’s Vietnam if you guys know my country. I am a huge huge huge x 1000 times of Rafa. Luckily that I could watch the match from 5PM until 7:30PM and cried when he hit the last ball for the match. I was so thrilled, so scared and so so emotional, the feeling is just like last year French Open vs Novak when I realized that Nadal’s body was really tired and has some cramps. My hear beat rate was over 100 beats/min and I was extremely happy at the end. I don’t know how long the career of Rafa will end, I don’t want to think about that, and for that I value, appreciate and respect every moment of Rafa on court from now on… Vamos Rafa. May all the best be with you this year. Big fan and huge support from Vietnam!

  5. I set my alarm at 3 am in Toronto had two hours sleep and didn’t sleep until now I have stomach ache after Rafa match until now, what a way to fight an epic thriller match I was so sad when Rafa wasn’t himself on court Tim played a match of his life time against Rafa unforgettable.My son asked me “mom if Rafa retire will you wake up to look at tennis”? I told him no way when Rafa retire I will not be interested in tennis any more, He’s fun. exciting and lively on the court like no other player

    • Yes Chandra, the same to me. I think when the day Rafa announces his retirement, I will be no longer interested in tennis… I cannot imagine what will be, because my passion, my love for tennis is all about Rafa. He truly brought me to the world of tennis, the world of a humble, gracious and never-say-die Champion! Vamos!

  6. Am watching the match now.GREAT effort from my favorite player! Although obviously not feeling well, Nadal stuck in there to get the win. Prayers to Rafa to feel better and win the tournament. Vamos Rafa!!

  7. I watched the entire match, and leaving in Arizona ,the time was 5;00 AM, I had to sleep in this morning.Rafael you are amazing, I pray that you will feel well and continue to let us watch you play.Love you CES’T MOI

  8. ne t’inquiète pas , ça arrive et de plus tu reviens dans la grande compétition . Relax man et ne te prend pas la tête … si tu arrive à passer alors que tu n’ es pas bien ,pense au massacre que tu va faire en forme … tu es bon et tu le sais ! je suis confiant et ne t’inquiète pas . REPOS ET ON VERRA APRES .Bonne nuit …

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