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At the age of 35, Rafael Nadal played the longest tiebreak of his illustrious tennis career: 'It just got a little crazy'

At the age of 35, Rafael Nadal played the longest tiebreak of his illustrious tennis career: ‘It just got a little crazy’


Rafael Nadal (ATP 5) qualified for the quarter-finals on Sunday at the Australian Open, the first major tournament of the year in Melbourne. In it, the Spaniard will compete against Canadian Denis Shapovalov (ATP 14), who beat German Alexander Zverev (ATP 3) outside the tournament.

Vincent van Genstensource: Belgian

Nadal, the sixth seed in Melbourne, beat French Adrian Mannarino (69) in the fourth round (eighth final) in three sets: 7-6 (16/14), 6-2, 6-2. The match lasted two hours and 43 minutes. In the quarter-finals Nadal is waiting for Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian was ruthless in his eighth final with Alexander Zverev, winning after 2 hours 24 minutes in three sets: 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

Nadal had a hard time, especially in the first set. The tiebreak lasted 28 minutes 40 seconds, the longest of his illustrious career. “I wasn’t interested in that, but this tiebreak had it all,” said the Spaniard. “I played some great points, late 4-2 6-4. My serve didn’t shift when I grabbed the set. After that it all got a little crazy, with some bad balls. Like that shot at a specific point in front of him. It was probably fun. Watching it, but it didn’t feel that way on my rocket (laughs).”

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The 35-year-old Spaniard has been in good form this season. In the run-up to the Australian Open, he actually won a preparatory tournament in Melbourne without dropping a set and continued that streak at the Australian Open in the first two rounds. He had to concede a set to Russia’s Karen Khachanov (ATP 30) in the third round, but that didn’t make the winner doubt him.

Nadal won the Australian Open in 2009 after defeating Roger Federer in the final. He lost four times in the final in Melbourne, in 2012 (against Novak Djokovic), 2014 (against Stan Wawrinka), 2017 (against Roger Federer) and 2019 (against Novak Djokovic). The Spaniard is seeking his 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, which will make history. After all, he could become the first tennis player ever to win more than 20 major tournaments. He is currently on par with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who do not play in Australia. Djokovic had hoped to participate, but saw that his visa had been revoked by the Australian authorities.