Australian Open: Five things to watch
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Rafael Nadal was on the verge of history in his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open, only to be denied in a third-set tiebreak. Tsitsipas was no match for Nadal’s ferocious start to the match as the Spaniard raced to a 2-0 lead on sets.
The world No 2 had barely broken sweat but Tsitsipas was beginning to show signs of getting back up to speed in the third set.
Neither player was given anything away on serve with Nadal playing some excellent defensive tennis to keep Tsitsipas at bay.
But Tsitsipas’ serving power was proving too much for Nadal to find a way through as the match went into a tiebreak.
And the Greek tennis star got his break after an unforced error from Nadal to pull himself back into the match and, as a result, deny the 20-time Grand Slam champion a piece of history.
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Nadal’s win in the second was his 35th consecutive set win dating back to last year’s Australian Open.
He was eliminated in the quarter-finals back in 2020, losing to Dominic Thiem but had been in excellent form at Grand Slams after that.
Nadal then opted to skip the US Open amid Covid-19 concerns but made his return at the French Open in excellent style.
The 34-year-old was perfect in Roland Garros, not dropping a single set as he defeated Novak Djokovic in the final.
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And Nadal had started the 2021 Australian Open in similar fashion, dispatching Laslo Djere, Michael Mmoh, Cam Norrie and Fabio Fognini in straight sets.
It looked to be going in the same direction against No 5 seed Tsitsipas and in turn he would have matched Roger Federer’s all-time record for 36 consecutive Grand Slam sets won.
But Nadal began making some uncharacteric errors which gave his opponent some confidence of coming back in the match.
He did manage to match John McEnroe’s tally of 35 consecutive sets won at a Grand Slam with 35.
The American achieved the feat back in 1984 when he won Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back.
Federer though stands alone with his record that he achieved between 2006 and 2007.
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