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Tsitsipas ends Nadal's Grand Slam set streak at 35

Updated: 2021-02-18 10:23
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Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas shakes hands with Spain's Rafael Nadal after winning his quarter final match of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

MELBOURNE, Australia - Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam set streak has ended at 35 after he dropped one against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Nadal took the first two sets of their match 6-3, 6-2, giving him 14 in a row at Melbourne Park, on top of the 21 straight he claimed while winning the championship at the French Open in October.

But Tsitsipas grabbed the third set in a tiebreaker with the help of some uncharacteristic mistakes by Nadal.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion flubbed two overheads in the tiebreaker and also framed a backhand. Nadal pushed another backhand long on the last point of that set.

That leaves Nadal one short of Roger Federer's professional era record of 36 sets in a row at major tournaments 7 pm.

Fans will be allowed back at the Australian Open after a five-day lockdown in Melbourne.

Australia's second-largest city will relax its third lockdown at midnight Wednesday after authorities contained the spread of a COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates winning his quarter final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal. [Photo/Agencies]

Tournament director Craig Tiley said the crowd will be capped at 7,477 — half the capacity of Rod Laver Arena — for each of the last four days of the tournament.

Crowds of up to 30,000 a day were allowed into Melbourne Park for the first five days of the tournament. Those were the first sizable crowds in 12 months at a major. The US Open didn't allow spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the French Open restricted numbers to fewer than 1,000. Wimbledon was canceled.

Tiley said, "We look forward to welcoming fans back ... for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high." He described the atmosphere as "electric" in the first five days and "the players appreciated the opportunity to compete in front of crowds for the first time in almost a year, and many spoke about how emotional it was to connect with fans again."

Both women's semifinals and the first of the men's semifinals will be held Thursday. The women's singles final is scheduled for Saturday and the men's singles final on Sunday.

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