The Spanish won 6-4, 4-6 and 6-2 against the Greek. In the next instance, he will collide with the Russian Medvedev.
After his fall to Dominic Thiem on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal entered the final day of the London 2020 group of the London Masters with the obligation to win to advance to the second round. Above, he did not have an easy rival: the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. But the Spanish played a great game, like the champion, took advantage of the doubts of his adversary and took the victory 6-4, 4-6 and 6-2. Thus he got into the semifinals, where he will collide with Russian Daniil Medvedev, who has already secured first place in the other zone.
Tsitsipas, winner of the tournament last year, started very plugged, determined to take the reins of the game, and showed a very aggressive game at the start. Nadal was also solid from the first games. Thus, during a good part of an entertaining first set no advantages were taken.
Rafa, who took to the field with the peace of mind that his number two was not in danger (when he fell to Andrey Rublev, Dominic Thiem had no chance to displace him), had the first chances to get ahead on the scoreboard in the seventh game. But he could not take advantage of them.
The Spaniard missed his first break point by returning a second serve from the Greek with a backhand that was too long and the second, by a very wide inverted forehand. Tsitsipas thus managed to maintain the service and left the score 4-3 in his favor.
Although the game was very level, the Greek was more irregular than the Spanish with his serve. And with the set tied 4-4, he played a very weak service game, which cost him dearly. Because he made three backhand errors and a double fault and gave Nadal a break, who went ahead 5-4.
The Spanish had the set at hand and did not let it escape. He played very solid with his serve and sealed it 6-4 with an ace.
Nadal started the second set very loose, fast with his legs and with his drive switched on. Although the Greek was not far behind and was also able to show some of his best tennis.
But the Mallorcan was safer with his serve; while Tsitsipas had no problems with his first serve, but showed some cracks with the second. Without breaks they reached the tenth game, with Tsitsipas 5-4 up and Nadal on serve.
So the Spaniard made the same mistake that his rival had made in the previous quarter: he played his worst service game at a key moment. The Greek had two break points to take the set. Rafa saved the first, but committed a double fault and delivered the second. 6-4 for Tsitsipas and the third set.
A pure break started the last chapter, with both very irregular with the serve. The world number six gave up the first break in the opening game, with another double fault. In the next game, he got onto the court, played very aggressive and regained the disadvantage. And Rafa was lethal with his return and took another break to go ahead again on the scoreboard 2-1.
The Spanish accelerated and raised the intensity in the final part of the set; and struck again at the right time. He again took advantage of some doubts from Tsitsipas, who with the score 2-4 against him again made many mistakes, and again stole the serve from his rival to get 5-2 and be one game away from the victory and the semifinals.
The Greek did not give up and gave him a fight, even when the defeat seemed a fact. He fought to the end, saved a match point and forced Nadal to work in the last game. But the Spaniard responded well to the pressure and sealed the victory with an exquisite parallel backhand, which deposited him for the sixth time in the semifinals of the tournament.
Rafa, who had already reached this stage in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2015, thus finished second in the London 2020 group, which Thiem won. Meanwhile Tsitsipas was eliminated. In the semifinals, the Spanish, second favorite, will meet Russian Daniil Medvedev, fourth, who despite having a game pending – he will close this Friday against Diego Schwartzman – has already secured first place in the Tokyo 2020 zone.
Nadal wants to lift the Masters trophy for the first time in his career. It is the only major title he has yet to conquer, as he has 20 Grand Slams, five Davis Cups and the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold to his credit.