The Manacor native was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the tournament in Brisbane (Australia) on Friday, January 5, and celebrated his comeback after almost a year out of action due to a hip injury.
Rafael Nadal, who returned to the Brisbane tournament after taking almost a year off due to his injuries and two surgeries, lost to Australian Jordan Thompson (55th) 5-7, 7-6 (8/8) in the quarter-finals. 6), 6-3 on Friday, January 5, from the former world No. 1, who physically died in the last set.
In his statement after the second round on Thursday, Nadal said, “I need matches, I can also play in doubles and train well, spending hours on the court is very important for me.” His wish was granted: Nadal spent almost 3.5 hours on the court against Thompson: 1 hour 14 minutes in the first set, 1 hour 19 minutes in the second set, a little less in the third set (51 minutes). But not for the expected result.
Rafa Nadal smiles and waves to the crowd in Brisbane.
When he entered this field the other day to make a comeback, he entered as a champion.
Whether he wins or loses, he leaves this field as a champion.
It’s an honor to watch it once again. ?❤️
— Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) January 5, 2024
The defeated Spaniard felt “muscle” pain in his left thigh at the end of the match, “in a very similar place” where he injured himself a year ago. He then left the field briefly before ending the match. He wanted to reassure by explaining that it was just “overworked muscles after a few days of effort and a very tough match” and said he hoped “to have the chance to train and play in Melbourne next week”. “I’m not 100% sure of anything right now.”
The Mallorcan would come to regret two mistakes made in the first two of three match points, sending a high backhand volley into the lane followed by a forehand as he took the lead each time in the rally. Nothing to regret in the third, however, as he was well and truly saved from a deep comeback by the Australian.
Out of breath
The 37-year-old former world No. 1 dropped to 672nd after a long layoff and was pushed from the start by a very sharp Thompson, especially in return for serve. This led to Nadal heading to the net to force him into making a mistake, winning the first break at 3-3. But, like the champion he always is, he reacted immediately by taking the opponent’s serve in the next game. While serving to get back to six games in a row, Thompson’s mind cracked: a double fault, a backhand shot on target, his racket crashing to the ground and the Australian finding himself 0-40 down and offering the set to Nadal. A new ball in the net.
In the second set, the Majorcan had the opportunity to attack first and then take three match points to fold the match in two sets. However, he failed to capitalize on his chance, opening the door for Thompson to return. The 29-year-old player, who is extremely remarkable and could not win a single set in the two matches he played before, managed to equalize in a single set.
The third set proved fatal for Nadal: the Spaniard, who won two sets in the first two rounds, was out of competition for too long and then ran out of fuel. Despite the anxiety arising from the pain felt and the defeat, Nadal can still have reasons for satisfaction: although he looked a little rusty in some races going forward, his serve was flawed, he maintained long rallies and regained his glory at some points. , like this backhand and this backhand shot to take away Thomson’s shot at 4-4 in the second set, or this backhand shot at the end of the race at the beginning of the third set. Like the best days.
Thompson will face Grigor Dimitrov (14th) in the semi-finals, who was one of the men in form at the end of last season and started the year well, having finished the year before with a final in Paris.