John McEnroe astonished by Rafael Nadal ‘bag of tricks’
Rafael Nadal has prepared brilliantly for the Australian Open according to John McEnroe as he showed he is still able to pull great performances out of his hat.
The 20-time Slam champion won the ATP 250 Melbourne Summer Set to kick off his 2022 season with an 89th tour title of his career.
Now, Nadal has defeated Denis Shapovalov to extend his 2022 record to 8-0 and reach a 36th career Slam semi-final, a seventh in Melbourne.
It was a tough encounter with the young Canadian as Nadal was pushed to a fifth set after Shapovalov came from two sets to love down, the 35-year-old Spaniard looking spent come the fifth set.
But the 2009 champion was able to pull through, and McEnroe was among the first to give his view on the victory.
“Just when you think Rafa [Nadal] has got nothing left he pulls something out of his bag of tricks,” McEnroe said on Eurosport.
“He managed himself so well. Obviously the heat was getting to him, Shapovalov was playing as well as I’ve seen him play.
“How he can pace himself, and then get his energy up early in the fifth set, is incredible.
“Let’s face it, Shapovalov swings through the fences, goes for broke, he got a little bit wild early in the fifth and that really cost him.
“Rafa was going for more serves, he was throwing in more double faults, but it was a good play, he had to take chances on his serve.”
Nadal is grateful just to be playing in Melbourne after injury ended his 2021 season early before he also contracted Covid at the end of the year.
In fact, the GOAT contender even admitted that he was not sure he would be able to continue his career ahead of the 2022 season, with McEnroe sensing the gratitude Nadal brings after that.
“You could see how much it meant to him to pull this off, the guy is absolutely amazing that he can still do this at this level,” the American said.
“Shapovalov wanted it so bad, he could taste it, he could feel it, it was there, but he choked early in the fifth.
“Rafa looks pretty good in my book.
“I think he came to Australia early because he got Covid, because he wanted to get to matches, because he wanted to get used to the heat.
“And I think that paid off for him in this particular match.
“This was a match that Shapovalov had for the taking, but that’s why Rafa is so great because he was able to put the pressure on just at the right moments, just at the right time and he was able to get it done.
“That’s what separates these guys.”
Nadal will take on Gael Monfils or Matteo Berrettini on Friday for a spot in the 2022 Australian Open final.
Watch the Australian Open exclusively live on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport app.
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