Melbourne, Feb 17 (IANS) World No.2 Rafael Nadal on Wednesday fell to fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in a five-set thriller that stretched to over four hours. Tsitsipas fought back from two sets down to beat Nadal 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 at the Rod Laver Arena.
This was the seventh time that Tsitsipas faced Nadal. He had beaten the 20-time Grand Slam champion only once before Wednesday.
Tsitsipas now faces Russian world No.4 Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals, who beat compatriot Andrey Rublev earlier in the day. Unlike Tsitsipas, Medvedev had a much more straightforward path against seventh seed Rublev, who was struggling with the humid conditions.
This is only the third time in his career that Nadal has lost a match after going two sets up to love. The last man to beat Nadal in this manner was Italy’s Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open.
ATP Finals champion Medvedev earlier beat Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. He has thus far won all 11 of his matches against top 10 players since the US Open in September 2020. He goes into the semi-finals on a 19-match unbeaten run.
Rublev stretched Medvedev in the first set amid high humidity. The two players traded breaks before Medvedev finally capitalised by breaking Rublev to love. Rublev then struggled with the humidity as Medvedev ran riot.
Earlier, world No.1 and former champion Ashleigh Barty was ousted from the 2021 Australian Open in the quarter-final stage on Wednesday after being stunned by Czech world No.25 Karolina Muchova over three sets at the Rod Laver Arena.
Barty lost the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 as Muchova continued taking down higher ranked opponents. She had earlier beaten her compatriot and world No.1 6 Karolina Pliskova before beating 18th ranked Elise Mertens of Belgium in the fourth round.
Barty was utterly dominant in the first set and was continuing in the same vein as she led the second set 2-1. Muchova then took a 10-minute injury timeout which she later admitted she took just to compose herself. The match turned on its head after the match as Muchova reeled off the next 11 of the next 15 games to win the match.
She faces Jennifer Brady, who beat Jessica Pegula in an all-American quarter-final. Brady, seeded 22nd, beat Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Rod Laver Arena.