Predictions around the tennis world said that this would be one of the most highly anticipated and contested matches at the Australian Open—and that it was.
From the start, No. 2 Rafa Nadal and No. 5 Andy Murray had their tennis guns blazing. Their playing resembled the up-and-down motion of a see-saw—just as quickly as one got the heads up, the other quickly struck back.
It was apparent that Murray knew he had to bring everything he had and play consistently well in order to have a chance against Nadal. His record going into the match against Nadal was 2-7.
In the first set, it became obvious that Nadal had difficulty answering Murray's cross court backhand. But, despite the difficulty, Nadal played hard and seemed to find his rhythm. He had some great breaks. The only concern was Murray had an answer for most of Nadal's advantages. But, Nadal would not go down without a serious fight.
The end of this set was a prime example. It seemed as though it took forever as Murray was playing for set point. It appeared that way because these two men went head-to-head. Although Nadal was able to save two set points, Murray was successful on the third and won 6-3.
The second set began strong for Nadal, and he seemed to be maintaining better than he had in the first set. He achieved a 4-2 advantage, but Murray came back. Once again, you saw the see-saw motion, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, 5-5, 6-5, and 6-6. This led to a tiebreaker in which Murray dominated. He captured yet another set, 7-6.
During the third set, unfortunately, Nadal had to request medical attention for his right knee. Earlier, it appeared that Rafa had lost his footing, causing him to go down. Was this fall a precursor to this knee concern? Last year, Rafa was unable to defend at Wimbledon due to a very similar injury.
But, following treatment, he went back out and continued to play. Soon after though, he realized that he could not go on. He went over to Murray, letting him know that he needed to retire. This was Rafa's first retirement in a Major.
It's a disappointment that Nadal had to retire, but like he discussed in a post match interview, it was better for him to stop than possibly risk further concerns for the knee. You have to take your hat off to an awesome tennis player in Rafael Nadal. Hopefully, he will get healthy and return.
Best wishes Rafa!