Australian Open 2021 - 'You can't do that against Rafael Nadal' - Mats Wilander's warning for rivals
Britain's Cameron Norrie saw his fine run at the 2021 Australian Open come to an abrupt end as he came up against a fired up and super aggressive Rafael Nadal, who powered through to the last 16 with a straight sets victory at Melbourne Park. The unseeded Norrie gave his all, but Mats Wilander believes his loss was a warning to others.
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a game during round 3 of the 2021 Australian Open on February 13 2020, at Melbourne Park
Eurosport's Mats Wilander said of Norrie's performance: "He did very well. It was a good match from Norrie and maybe a step in the right direction.
"But I think he was playing way too much to Nadal's backhand and you can't do that. You go into this match thinking, 'If I'm going to beat Rafa, I need to look at what Novak Djokovic does', for example.
Norrie went to Nadal's backhand 60 per cent of the time. When Novak Djokovic plays Rafa, it is literally 50:50 [hitting to the backhand and forehand], and Novak has the best record against Rafa.
'You can't do that against Nadal' - Wilander's warning for rivals
"Going straight to the backhand is a nightmare scenario. Nadal, I love it when he's that aggressive with his court positioning in the returns.
"He [Norrie] played a good match, and obviously it's much easier to say from the outside than when you're out there and you realise how good Nadal is."
With Norrie out of the tournament, Britain no longer has a representative in either singles draw, but he could not have battled more tirelessly against the second seed.
'Wow, your son is doing rather well!' - Norrie breaks Nadal
Eurosport expert and former British star Jo Durie said: "This will have been such a valuable experience for Norrie on the big stage, and it will have given him a lot of confidence."
The Spaniard did not look overly troubled by his back injury during the match, and will have been relieved to have secured his swift progress with a straight-sets win.
Nadal will next take on Fabio Fognini in the fourth round in Melbourne after the fiery Italian beat home favourite Alex De Minaur on Margaret Court Arena.
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"We have played a lot of times; he has beaten me a few times," Nadal said of Fognini. "I need to keep improving and you don't expect any easy games."