Rafael Nadal defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6 and 6-2 (in 2h 04m) and qualified for the semifinals of the Masters Cup, in which Russian Daniil Medvedev will be faced on Saturday. The 34-year-old world number two beat the Greek in a tense match and certified his move to the penultimate round of the tournament for the sixth time in his career. He hadn’t done it since 2015, when he was eliminated by Novak Djokovic. It should be remembered that the Serbian, at the head of the world list, will face this Friday a duel with heads or tails with the German Alexander Zverev.
In Nadal’s group, the Austrian Thiem already had a ticket to the semifinals, so he was not affected by the defeat against Andrey Rublev, already eliminated (6-2 and 7-5) and who in his master debut took the consolation of his first victory. Meanwhile, in the other block, Argentine Diego Schwartzman, with two defeats, no longer has any option to continue and will seal the match against Medvedev this Friday in a match that, however, will contribute 200 points and 153,000 dollars (about 130,000 euros) to the winner. It is no small thing.
In this open Masters, the night offered a final because the duel was heads or tails, a circumstance that did not make Tsitsipas tremble. The Greek, a singular tennis player, delicious at times but with a relative tendency to disperse, proposed what he anticipated the day before: war from the beginning. He came out strong and charged as soon as he could. The first rally left the corridor, but the doll quickly warmed up and entered a couple of times with the right to the kitchen, before closing her debut in the evening with a left that, after all , It was a declaration of intentions.
Nadal, always hierarchical, frowned and called him to order immediately. He signed up for his first shift on duty in white and drew a fancy dress to make it clear to the boy that if he wanted to go, he would not miss it either. However, Tsitsipas continued erre que er, answered, firm with the serve and putting the sixth gear every time he had to serve, wanting everything to pass very quickly so that Nadal, as a good coconut, did not have too much time to think. Another thing, and this is not new, was his attitude to the rest.
A graceful and fearless Greek
Among the young people who aspire to really put their elbows among the bourgeoisie of the circuit, the Greek is the most bully, in the good sense of the word, and also the most daring. If he has to show his fist, he shows it; if he has to shoot a challenging look, he shoots it; If he has to let his rival know that he has made a good point with a loud cry, like more than one that was heard last night at the O2, he does it; And if he has to disguise himself as Shapovalov and draw a suspended backhand when Nadal squeezes him and the water reaches his neck, he disguises himself. Tsitsipas, graceful like few others, plays without fear.
It so happens that this repertoire of daring does not end up liking such hierarchical guys like Nadal, who likes order and does not look favorably on fanfare. If Tsitsipas approached him at full throttle, the Spaniard also raised a pulse to the dog’s face and attacked without regard. Firing effects with the drive and exploring virgin angles on the London court with the backhand, he cemented the strategy on the service because the master scepter, this type of indoor tournaments, pass through there. Get it right, and then we’ll see. But to begin with, show off the rifle. And it was applied: he delivered only two points with the first in the opening set.
You can see that he is physically fine, and little by little he was tightening the fence on the Greek. He got off a 15-40 in the seventh game, but Nadal hit the ninth from the rest, where it hurts, when there is usually no going back. Double fault and break. The Majorcan followed up and closed the first set by spreading his wings: here I am, here I am. You are going to need something more, with the intentions is not enough. But the Tsitsipas thing wasn’t bluffing. He did not collapse or give in to Nadal’s heavy machinery, devastating in numbers.
From control to misrule
Until the second set was prolonged, the Spaniard had only made four mistakes. Four. However, when he had everything apparently under control, he lost focus for a few minutes and committed a double fault that leveled the game. If until then the graph offered a straight line, with the minimum peaks of the two breaks, from there the misrule came. Thiem did not miss it from the stands, draining an energy bar, nor did Schwartzman, who with the finished course gave him a taste of nuts. The story invited popcorn, of course. Nadal chewed the date thoroughly. And the final fireworks arrived.
From one slap to another, the one from Manacor (32 winners and 13 errors at the end) almost always gives one more. He broke off from the start, digested the answer well, and struck again. There was no longer any remedy for Tsitsipas, fused in that threshold that does not admit to letting his guard down one iota. The defender of the title accused the overexertion and emotionally decompressed. He ended up collapsing, surrendered to the infernal resistance that Nadal demands, and the champion of 20 majors happily caught the semifinals with a warning: yes, this year he is going for it. With all of the law.