Rafael Nadal dug himself into a hole after reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open by joking that his girlfriend needed a wildcard to finally watch him in Melbourne.
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Nadal was in jovial spirits after beating Gael Monfils in four sets to reach the last eight of a grand slam for the first time since the 2015 French Open.
The 14-time major champion had the support of his partner, Xisca Perello, in his box for the first time at the opening major of the year and luckily for the ninth seed she saw the funny side when he made a quip about her presence during his on-court interview.
When Jim Courier mentioned Perello making her debut Down Under, Nadal said: “The negative thing is I lost in the quarter-finals in Brisbane, but the good thing is I had the chance to visit Sydney and I hadn’t been there before.
“We enjoyed that and after, I don’t know, 10 years, my girlfriend finally gets a wildcard to come here!”
Courier replied: “I’m speechless, that’s a wildcard? That’s not a main draw player? She needs a special entry?”
A laughing Nadal responding by saying: “Better we stop here.”
Reflecting on his victory over Monfils, the Spaniard said the unpredictably of the sixth seed made life difficult.
He said: “I am not this kind of person that is that arrogant. When [I] lost the third, you are down 4-2 in the fourth, you are not under control.
“You know that you have a good chance to be in the fifth [set]. 4-3, 30-love for him. The match was tough. He had chances then. Is true that I had my chances before, but I had some mistakes. He started to serve huge.
“Sometimes [it] is tough to play against Gael when you don’t know what he is going to do. [The] first two sets were a little bit more normal, normal tennis. Then he [started] to play more aggressive.
“He started to serve huge and play big shots. He combines mistakes with great shots. Makes you feel that you don’t know if you have to go for the points or if you have to wait little bit for his mistake. You see that the opponent is playing a little bit more 50-50, so is not an easy way to play.
“But I made it. I kept fighting with a positive attitude. Finally I played [the] last few games good.”