(January 21, 2105) In a celebration more reminiscent of winning a Grand Slam than winning a second round match, Rafael Nadal fell to his knees clasping his hands after defeating American qualifier, No. 112 in the world Tim Smyczek in a comeback battle 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5 on Wednesday night at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Nadal survived dizziness, extreme sweating and stomach pain in the four hour as 12 minute match.
“All during my career is obvious that I was able to find solutions for tough moments,” said the 14-time major champion. “I was able to win matches where I was in trouble. Sure, is an ability, but you know I worked very hard during all my career to resist, to try to be strong mentally. Is obvious that all the practices when I was a kid, all the moments that I suffered, helps.”
The world No 3, after splitting the first two sets Nadal asked for a trainer during a medical time out in the third game of the third set.
“I was close to not continue because I felt that I was very dizzy,” Nadal said. “I felt that I can lose little bit the – I don’t know how to say – can fall down. So is true that after the third, fourth, and fifth, I tried to play much more aggressive, without running, no running anymore, and try to go for the winners and play little bit better, play little bit more relax. In terms of physically, at the end of the match I started to felt little bit better.”
Nadal served for the third set at 5-4, but double-faulted on break point. Smyzek went on to win the third set in a tiebreak 7-2.
The Spaniard rebounded in the fourth set breaking his challenger in the sixth game and broke the American in the 11th game of the fifth set and held to close the match.
In an act of sportsmanship, when a spectator yelled as Nadal was tossing the ball as he served, the 27-year-old Smyzek let Nadal replay the serve.
“Very tough night for me. Just first of all I want to congratulate Tim – he’s a real gentleman,” Nadal said. “What he did in the last game is … not a lot of people will do something like this at 6-5 in the fifth set.”
“I think he played well, but is true that what he did at the end of the fifth is just amazing,” Nadal said of Smyczek. “Congratulate. I say on the court, but I want to say here, too. Very few players can do that after four hours something of match, 5-All, Love-30. So just will say thanks to him because he’s a great example what he did today.”
Nadal is now 17-5 in five-set matches. He won just six points more than his opponent during the match 158 -152.
Nadal will face Dudi Sela, in the third round. He defeated No. 28 seed Lukas Rosol 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.