Rafael Nadal accidentally lets slip that a tennis favourite had withdrawn from the tournament before play began – as ‘Greek god’ Tsitsipas is catapulted through to the quarter finals
- Spain’s Rafael Nadal beat Fabio Fognini in straight sets at the Australian Open
- Nadal then let slip to reporters Matteo Berrettini was out of the tournament
- Nadal’s next opponent at Melbourne Park is ‘Greek god’ Stefanos Tsitsipas
Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal scooped a series of journalists at the Australian Open on Monday – after accidentally revealing a fellow player had pulled out of the tournament due to injury.
Men’s ninth seed Matteo Berrettini was scheduled to line up against ‘Greek god’ Stefanos Tsitsipas in their round 16 tussle late on Monday night, but fell victim to an abdominal strain.
Speaking in his own press conference following his victory against fiery Italian Fabio Fognini earlier in the day, Nadal let slip the news about Berrettini, declaring his focus was on Tsitsipas.
‘I need to make another step forward against Tsitsipas. Is it official? He’ll play tonight? Well, I don’t know, maybe,’ Nadal said as he tried to backtrack in vain.
Rafael Nadal (pictured above) celebrates during his fourth round match at the Australian Open on Tuesday
Next Nadal will play fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (pictured above) in an enticing quarter-final
‘I think I heard that Berrettini was a little bit injured but not official at all. Sorry for that. But yeah, something … well, I messed it up,’ he laughed.
Tournament organisers later confirmed Berrettini’s exit from Melbourne Park.
‘Matteo Berrettini has withdrawn from his fourth-round Australian Open match tonight (Monday) due to an abdominal strain. We wish him a speedy recovery,’ an official Australian Open tweet read.
While disappointed to be on the next plane home, Berrettini felt it ‘wasn’t professional’ to continue while hampered by injury.
‘I’m really sorry to say that I got injured in the last match I played. I felt something on my ab,’ he told Channel 9’s Todd Woodbridge.
‘I thought it wasn’t something really big, but the next day when I woke up I felt it was big, so I spoke to the doctors and they told me it can get worse, so it’s not worth the try.
‘I’m not 100 per cent. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 per cent and it’s not really professional to step in when you’re not the best.
‘It’s just bad luck. I was feeling it (the injury) especially on my second serve. I don’t know why, what’s the explanation, but I was feeling a lot (of pain). ‘I couldn’t play. I really tried hard, but unfortunately I’m not able to play.’
Earlier at Melbourne Park, Nadal swept aside Fabio Fognini to reach a 43rd grand slam quarter-final.
Nadal came into the tournament with a back injury but declared after his third-round win over Cameron Norrie that it had finally started to improve.
He has now reached the last eight without dropping a set.
Fognini, who came from two sets down to beat Nadal at the US Open in 2015, led by a break in the second set but lacked the discipline to really challenge the second seed, who eased to a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.
Matteo Berrettini (pictured above) was due to play Stefanos Tsitispas before pulling out of the Australian Open due to injury
Rafael Nadal overcame Fabio Fognini in straight sets to reach the Australian Open last eight
The score suggested otherwise, but it was a quality two-hour 16-minute workout for Nadal, who had to rally from 4-2 down in the second set to put the match on his terms.
From there, the momentum was all the Spaniard’s as Nadal roared through the final set to fix up a clash with Tsitsipas.
Nadal said after his win: ‘I played a good game when he broke me [in the second set] and was lucky to have the break back immediately and save a game from love-40 so I was a bit lucky.
‘It was humid and warm but the conditions are quicker during the day and for me it’s better to play in the day as I like the ball flying. But I need to adapt for all the conditions.
‘I’m happy the back is holding up but [Tuesday] will be an important day for practice.’
Nadal wasn’t unduly troubled by Fognini as he eased to a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory on Monday
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