Not many people are giving Rafael Nadal a shot at winning this year’s Australian Open, but he did catch one break thanks to the help of his second-round opponent, unknown American player, Tim Smyczek.
Nadal, who hasn’t won the Aussie Open since 2009 and has played just seven matches since last June’s Wimbledon Tournament due to injuries, was in danger of bowing out in the second round in Melbourne.
Trailing, 5-4 in the fifth set after four gruelling hours in the Australian heat, Nadal won a serve and then broke Smyczek, giving Rafa a shot to serve for the match.
With Nadal up 30-0 in the match’s 50th game, a fan yelled out as the ball was tossed up, causing Nadal to fault (as pointed out first by Yahoo! Australia).
Since Nadal actually struck the ball, the serve counted.
Needless to say, Nadal was not happy, glaring in the direction of the fan.
But then, just as Nadal was preparing for his second serve in the crucial moment, the chair umpire changed the call to a do-over.
A surprised Nadal then realised that the change had been made at the request of Smyczek.
ESPN commentator John McEnroe called the moment “a class move by Tim there. A class act.”
Smyczek is ranked No. 112 in the world and could have easily taken the opportunity in an effort to break Nadal and extend the match. He did not.
Instead, Nadal went on to win the game and the match keeping his hopes of a second Australian Open title alive.
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