The 2009 Australian Open champ Nadal, who was sidelined for much of 2021 with a troublesome foot injury, is clearly enjoying his return to health, once again covering the court like only the Mallorcan can. If you have any doubts, just cue up his first-set tie-break against Adrian Mannarino of France in the fourth round. He simply refused to surrender the punishing, half-hour-long breaker, winning, 16/14.
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Remember the Melbourne Park 2009 champion had five months out with a foot injury before arriving in Australia. His longevity and ability to bounce back is simply staggering.
“Things are going much better than expected, without a doubt,” stated the world No.5.
“But sport changes quick, and you need to be ready.”
Nadal’s title credentials will be truly tested on Day 9, with confidence coursing through the veins of Shapovalov. The Canadian completely dismantled world No.3 Alexander Zverev to match his Grand Slam career-best last-eight berths at US Open 2020 and Wimbledon 2021.
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As for Nadal, he has been hugely impressive in getting to the last eight, considering the setbacks of recent months.
It is a reminder that, above all, he is a great tournament player who knows how to approach a big fortnight and handle the pressures you face over that time span — bringing yourself to the boil at the right time. Rafa’s decision to play the relatively small 250-level event in Melbourne at the start of January was a typically smart move.
It got him the matches he needed and showed the others he is back in business, then allowed him to practice the week before the big one.
Following his defeat to Shapovalov, seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander told the Eurosport Cube that he was surprised that Zverev brought up money.
“I thought it was interesting when you asked him about sacrifices that you make when you’re on tour,” he said.
“I’ve never really heard Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic mention money and Sascha actually mentioned that ‘yeah being away from home blah blah blah, but it’s a good job, I’m gonna make a bunch of money’ and I’m like, whoa, that is interesting.”
He added: “Ranking points, championships, I get it. So I hope Sasha gets it together that he actually just doesn’t want to be No. 1, but actually needs deep in his heart to be the best player that he can be and doesn’t hope that it just comes to him automatically. We’re used to this with Rafa and Roger and Novak. They have set the bar. They set the bar so high, these three, that we come to expect that’s what you have to do. It’s so tough to do. ”
Safi stumbled upon tennis when she was eight years old, watching Rafael Nadal on television with her mother one day.
“In my country, if you ask which sport they like, they’ll say football. I remember the day I was watching television with my mother and we were watching Rafael Nadal, and we were so curious to see if there is any tennis court in Iran that we could go to just try,” she said.
“My family they are in love with sport, especially my father, he was a football player when he was younger and we were really curious: ‘What is tennis? Maybe I could try this?’
VIDEO: Watch Rafa’s Top 5 shots from the fourth round of the Australian Open 2022.
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