Just like all champions Rafael Nadal is gracious in defeat, however painful it might be.

The world No.2, within range of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, was stung 3-6 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4 7-5 by an astonishing comeback by Stefanos Tsitsipas in Wednesday’s Australian Open quarter-final.

The Spaniard has only lost from a two-love sets lead three times during his trophy-laden career, most recently to Fabio Fognini at US Open 2015.

Whilst world No.6 Tsitsipas moves onto meet Daniil Medvedev, Nadal is left to ponder what might have been.

“We can find excuses or reasons or maybe this quarantine that we need to be more time in the room than usual, yes, maybe. But, I am not the guy that I gonna find excuses on that or gonna complain about what happened,” insisted the AO 2009 champion, having contested with a niggling back problem.

“Just accept. I never considered myself unlucky person at all. Doesn’t matter the injuries that I had. I think I am very lucky person.

“The only thing that I can do is just keep going. I put myself in a position even the challenges that I faced that I was in quarterfinals with two sets up, close to be in that semifinals. So have been a chance lost, yes, but life continues. I hope to keep having chances. Well, I gonna keep fighting for it.”

The second seed blazed through the opening two sets and withstood stern resistance from the Greek youngster in the third set, until some wayward overheads opened the door for Tsitsipas.

“I am playing against one of the best players of the world, so you always have to expect the best from the opponent and be ready for anything.

“I think in the third he already start to play much better. Then in the fourth and fifth I think he played a very, very high level of tennis. Well done,” added Nadal, praising the triumphant fifth seed.

“Was a little bit of everything, no? I missed couple of balls in the tie-break that I shouldn’t that I could not miss if I want to win. And that’s it. I think Stefanos played a great fourth and fifth set. I was there. I played a couple of bad games. Just well done for him.”

Nadal’s overriding emotion is “sad,” but will depart proud of his deep run again at Melbourne Park.

“I lost a match in quarterfinals of an event that mean a lot to me. Australian Open is one of my favourite events, without a doubt,” stated the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“I tried my best in every single moment. With the right attitude. No complaining at all in not one moment, even in the tougher moments.

“I think I stayed positive all the time during the match, fighting. And was not enough. Sometimes it’s enough. Today was not enough.

“Just another story in my tennis career. That’s the life. Next year gonna be another year.”

The Australian Open will look forward to seeing Rafa back at Melbourne Park in 2022.

Source: Alex Sharp