Australian Open 2021: Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas preview, head-to-head & prediction

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Match details

Fixture: (2) Rafael Nadal vs (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Date: 17 February 2021

Tournament: Australian Open 2021

Round: Quarterfinals

Venue: Melbourne, Australia

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt

Prize money: AUD 80,000,000

Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport Player | India - Sony Six

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas preview

Many believed Fabio Fognini would offer Rafael Nadal a stern test in their Australian Open fourth-round meeting. But while the Italian did offer some resistance in the first two sets, he couldn't sustain his level against the form and quality of Nadal.

The Spaniard had a few minor problems on his serve but overall played very solidly to knock out Fognini in straight sets, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Rafael Nadal will next take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, with the Greek having received a walkover from Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round.

The World No. 2 is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era to win every Grand Slam twice. Perhaps more importantly though, he is also aiming to break Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has made it to the quarterfinals of a Slam for the third time in his career and the second time in Melbourne.

Tsitsipas has had a topsy-turvy run at the Australian Open this year. After dispatching Gilles Simon with consummate ease, the Greek was taken to five sets by Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Mikael Ymer was then beaten in straight sets, after which Tsitsipas received a walkover against Matteo Berrettini.

On the one hand, the Greek will be more rested than Nadal, so he will be the fresher player in their quarterfinal meeting. But at the same time, Tsitsipas might be missing the kind of battle-readiness that is needed before facing a player of Nadal's caliber.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas head-to-head

Rafael Nadal leads Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 in the head-to-head. The Greek has never defeated Nadal on hardcourt, and recently faced defeat to the Spaniard when they played each other at the 2020 ATP Finals.

Interestingly, Tsitsipas’ 2019 Australian Open run was ended by Nadal himself. The World No. 2 thrashed Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 back then to march into the finals.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas prediction

Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Australian Open

Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the few players in the draw who has the weapons to beat Rafael Nadal. However, the Greek often struggles to maintain his level throughout a big match, and it remains to be seen if he can do so on this occasion.

The key for Tsitsipas would be to get off to a quick start and take the opening set. That would not only boost his morale, but also force Nadal to go the extra mile - which in turn could cause the Spaniard to commit a few unforced errors.

Nadal on his part, will look to pepper the Greek’s one-handed backhand with his powerful forehand in the hope of breaking it down. But Tsitsipas could try to counter that by adopting Roger Federer's tactic of taking the ball on the rise and robbing Nadal of time.

If the Greek is able to do that, and also serve well throughout, he has a chance of causing a famous upset. Nadal, however, is in a league of his own, and could possibly come up trumps even while playing within his comfort zone.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in four sets.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here