Rafa Nadal breezes past Dudi Sela to reach fourth round of Australian Open
It was business as usual for Rafael Nadal, after his humdinger second round match as he put in a classy performance to breeze past Israeli Dudi Sela in their third round clash at the Australian Open. The third seed defeated Sela 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 in two hours and three minutes.
Exhibition tennis by the World No.3
The Spaniard was facing his opponent for the first time, but wasn’t subject to too many surprises as he played some exhibition tennis in the first two sets.
Nadal chose to receive and reached 3 break points on Sela’s opening service game. Sela saved two, with a precise single handed backhand down the line and the third by forcing the error out of Nadal. The World No.3 got a fourth break point with an excellent inside out forehand but went long on a second serve. He was not giving up though, as he moved Sela around and struck a forehand volley for a fifth break point and this time he broke through, with a strong backhand crosscourt and finishing it at the net.
Nadal followed it up with an easy service hold, with both forehand and backhand working in sync. Sela was under pressure in his service game, and though he played some good shots, Nadal outclassed him with yet another forehand down the line, going up a double break.
The Spaniard continued to race away, taking a 4-0 lead, looking to conserve as much energy as possible. Sela finally held serve, with a love hold, but not without pressure though, as Nadal made unforced errors.
Though there were some moments of brilliance from Sela, he was nowhere close to troubling Nadal. Nadal wasted no time holding serve, and then pulled off a couple of delightful winners, to reach two set points. He needed only one, as he hit yet another winner, taking the first set 6-1.
No mercy shown by Nadal
The second set started in similar fashion, with the cool conditions helping Nadal, as he showed no signs of trouble and held serve once again.
Sela looked like he would hold serve, but Nadal pulled off a brilliant backhand service return and another winner, to reach break point. Sela conceded the break with his first break point of the match. The man from Mallorca continued his masterclass, giving Sela little room to apply pressure and win points as he raced to a 3-0 lead.
The onslaught continued. Nadal’s backhand was firing on all cylinders as he hit winners on both wings, as Nadal broke yet again to take a 4-0 lead.
It was getting desperate for Sela now, as was evident from a light hearted moment on court, when he seemed to have won a point, but got it overturned on a challenge from Nadal, and then he pleaded with Nadal to concede just one point.
After that moment, Nadal led 5-0.
It was close to being 6-0, as Nadal held three set points, the winners just flowing effortlessly out of his racquet. Sela saved all three, and then saved one more with an overhead smash. Nadal reached yet another set point with a forehand winner, and Sela couldn’t stop him this time, as he ripped another winner and was up by two sets in under an hour.
A more competitive third set
Sela had nothing to lose and he realized he could go for broke in the third set. He reached his first break point of the match on Nadal’s serve, but Nadal snuffed it with a forehand smash at the net. He saved one more break point, before leading 1-0 in the third.
Sela received a standing ovation as he held the opening service game of the set for the first time. Both players continued to hold serve, till 3-2, when Nadal reached two break points on Sela’s serve. He saved one with an ace and forced an error out of Nadal on the next. He then played a brilliant backhand winner to level the scores at 3-3.
Nadal was under pressure for the first time, as he conceded two break points. He saved both with wide first serves and clinical finishes. He survived a bit of a scare, coming to the net and hitting it out of Sela’s reach. Sela continued to play well too, making this set more interesting and competitive.
Nadal was pushed on his serve yet again, and he managed to stay ahead yet again, as he led 5-4 in the third.
Sela played well under pressure, hitting some ferocious backhands to stay with Nadal in the fag end of the set. And then he sprung a surprise on Nadal, by smacking at his body to reach two break points of his own. Nadal saved one with a net cord, and Sela made an unforced error on the second. He created another opportunity, but the Spaniard used the wide serve to get himself out of trouble. He then pulled off an ace, and took a 6-5 lead in the fifth.
Sela’s resistance to Nadal was all but over, as Nadal pushed him back to reach his first match point. He hit an unforced error but made no mistake on his second match point as he finished a long rally with an excellent forehand and raised his arms in triumph.
After a tough second round, where he was battling nausea and dizziness, Nadal seemed pleased just to be back on court, more than the win itself. He finished with 43 winners and 25 unforced errors and will now face South African Kevin Anderson for a place in the quarterfinals.