Australian Open Day 3: Nadal survives Smyczek
TOURNAMENT 3rd seed Rafael Nadal fought off a stiff opposition by the American qualifier, Tim Smyczek. The match was played on a hot evening in Melbourne (90F/30C0) with a capacity crowd in the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal survived a likely upset that would have made the headlines on sports pages across the world.
Nadal opened the march by serving first and won the first point and the game. But Tim fired back with an Ace to win the first point of his first service game in which he did not lose a point. Games went with serve until the fourth. Serving at 0-15, a long rally ended with a crosscourt backhand landing past the baseline.
Tim made the next point but lost the game to offer Nadal the service break. Nadal consolidated the lead by wining his service game. The American won the first point of the next game, but lost the next with a mis-hit forehand at his baseline.
However, he served an ace and followed with a volley winner to take the game. Nadal took the seventh game with a tough overheard smash from close to his baseline. The eighth game was long drawn but Nadal broke serve to take the first set at 6-2.
The second set went to Smyczk at 6-3.
The drama increased in the middle of the third set at 3 games apiece Nadal held to lead and then broke Smyczk to lead by 5 games to 3. But the American won the next three games, forcing Nadal to fight hard and take the set to a tiebreak, which the American won by seven points to 2, serving an ace to close the set. Nadal was retrieving all through the ties break. Suddenly, there was possibility of an upset. Nadal took a bathroom break.
In the fourth set, the games were short, few long rallies. This indicated the fatigue setting, compelling both players to attempt finishing points quickly. The American fired four aces in the set, which Nadal won by 6 games to three, to level sets and take the match to a deciding fifth set.
In the opening game, serving at 30-0, Tim fired a service that pulled Nadal wide but the Champion managed to hit a backhand crosscourt service return that got the crowd screaming. The game went to the American after four deuces. Nadal fought a long drawn-out game to hold his serve. Games went with serve, with Smyczk firing many unreturnable serves.
In the 5th game, after three hours on the court, the heat was reported to be subsiding. Nadal took the sixth game with a forehand struck with his characteristic authority. It was an indication that he intended to fight to the end, Nadal had a chance to break the American but lost it.
He got the crucial break to lead 6 games to five. Serving for the match, Nadal won the first three points to attain match-winning point. He pulled the American wide with a serve and attempted to wrong-foot his opponent with a short crosscourt forehand but it landed in the net.
Tension heightened as he lost the next two points to take the game to deuce. When he got the advantage, he made no mistake in sealing it off with game set and the match.
In the interview on court, he acknowledged that it was a very tough match in humid condition in which he felt tire after the first set and cramps all over his body. However, he said he accepted the situation and decided to fight for every point, as is his wont.
Rafael Nadal had survived the threat of an upset, on Day 3 when 72,954 spectators came to watch the matches in all the courts.