The Big 4 is no longer so big. Sure, Andy Murray is still ranked No. 1, but that’s like saying, at least Ringo still charts hits.
It happed rather quickly too. Roger Federer at 35 is over the hill. Although he is still able to play at a high level from time to time and Novak Djokovic was upset at the OZ Open in the second round.
However, Rafael Nadal, whose body seemed to be breaking down after years of wear and tear seems to be getting his second wind down in Melbourne, finally getting off the snide in five setters beating upstart Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 6-2.
“Is obviously that is an important result for me,” Nadal said. “I lost the last couple of ones, matches in the fifth. So is important for me to win a match like this, losing two sets to one… Very happy.”
Nasal was on a three five-setter losing streak, which has hurt his Grand Slam record over the last year. You had to start wondering if Nadal could compete in the five-set matches anymore.
Today he proved that he could.
“I did in the US Open, but I lost,” Nadal said. “I did. I played against Pouille, a good match, a good fight. I came back after two sets to one, break up in the fifth, 30-Love, 4-3, 30-Love. Then I lost the match.
“I had that feeling there. But change when you lose the match or when you win.
“For the confidence, for lot of things, are very important to win these kind of matches, no? I worked a lot during all December to have the chances to compete well these kinds of moments. Even if I start the match with some nerves, I think I was able to come back well, no?”
He does. It looks like the 30 year-old has a little spring in his step as this tournament goes along. And now, Nadal is in the second week, the Round of 16.
“I am in the second week, so that’s always a good preparation, no? The bad news if you are not in the second week,” he said. “Doesn’t matter how you arrive to the second week. If you are not injured, the most important thing is be there. I did. I won three great matches. Especially this last one is a very important one for me, no?
“I hope to be ready. As I say before, no, my body was good during the whole match. Let’s see how I wake up tomorrow. But I believe that I’m going to be fine.”
He now takes on No. 6 seed Gael Monfils, something the No. 8 seed Nadal will be considered an underdog in that match.
“He’s playing great,” Nadal said. “He had an amazing year last year. He started the season again playing very well.Going to be a big, big match. Very tough one. I need to play my best.”
By the looks of it, he will.