Rafael Nadal of Spain shakes hands with Dudi Sela (left) of Israel after defeating him 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 in their men’s singles third round match at the Australian Open on Friday..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dudi Sela’s hopes of reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open for the first time in his career may have been dashed on Friday, but he nevertheless left Melbourne with memories of a lifetime.
Sela never really threatened to beat 14-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in the third round, ultimately losing 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 after two hours and four minutes on Rod Laver Arena. The Israeli, who is ranked at No. 106 in the world, was overpowered but he showed impressive touch, varied his pace on return, worked the angles and gave the Spaniard a fight in the third set.
“I was very nervous at the start and he already had a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes. Once he takes charge he doesn’t take his foot off the gas,” said Sela, who was playing Nadal for the first time in his career. “The story repeated itself in the second set and in the third I was lucky that I started off well. All in all, I reached the third round and that is a good start to the year. I hope to build on this and keep improving my tennis and mainly remain healthy and enjoy life.”
Nadal was very complimentary towards Sela.
“Dudi had a bit more mistakes than usual in the first two sets and it helped me a little bit, but in general I was playing a lot better than the other day,” said Nadal, who faces Kevin Anderson in the fourth round. “He had some chances in the third set. He’s a player that can play very well with a good backhand and I was lucky at the end of the third set.”