‘I’m sure he won’t want Rafael Nadal to be in that position’, says ATP legend

Competing in his seventh Masters 1000 tournament in Toronto 2018, next star Stefanos Tsitsipas had to dig deep for a remarkable result. Stefanos played at a high level against Dominic Thiem and a former winner Novak Djokovic, he never lost serve and faced defending champion Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. The German had the match on his hands, opening a 6-3, 5-2 lead and squandering two match points in the second-set tie-break to suffer a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 defeat to power up Tsitsipas in the semifinals. Still a teenager, Stefanos became the youngest player with four top-10 victories in a single event since the formation of the ATP Tour in 1990 after saving another match point in a 6-7, 6-4 victory. 7-6 over Kevin Anderson. Tsitsipas, already racking up enough points to break into the top 20, played for the Masters 1000 title against Rafael Nadal on his 20th birthday. After an incredible week, the Greek suffered a 6-2, 7-6 loss to Nadal, finishing runner-up and still writing history. Stefanos had won just three games against Rafa in the title match in Barcelona in April and was unable to find the winning formula in Toronto, as the Spaniard achieved victory number 40 in 43 meetings in 2018. Stefanos took 12 points on the return, and some of them came in the 10th game of the second set when he broke back to extend the set and at 6-5 when he blew a set point. It was a wonderful performance from Nadal until 6-2 5-4, navigating through his service games and dominating with his forehand to have the advantage from the baseline. Despite that unstable period in the latter part of the clash, he finished the match with 27 winners and 20 unforced errors, while Tsitsipas scored 15 direct points and 25 errors.

Nadal will return to action next month

Rafael Nadal will return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December, as the Spaniard gears up for the 2022 Australian Open. Against that background, Todd Woodbridge believes the Serb is under increasing pressure to make a call on his participation in Melbourne following Nadal’s announcement. “One thing (that) stood out to me is that Novak has been laid the challenge from Rafael Nadal,” Woodbridge told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports. “Now, the challenge within that is, ‘does he win the tournament and take 21 (major wins) and get back in front?’ Does Novak want to let him do that? I’m sure he won’t want (Nadal) to be in that position, so at some point Novak is going to have to make that call (as to whether he gets vaccinated).”

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