SELNAD

Sela was unable to cause an upset against Rafael Nadal. Picture: Peter Haskin/Australian Jewish News

Dudi Sela’s Australian Open campaign is over after he suffered a straight sets 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 defeat to Rafael Nadal on Friday morning.

The pattern of the first two sets of the match was set in the opening game, which Sela lost on his serve, Nadal converting his fifth break point. The Spaniard then held his serve, before breaking Sela again to go 3-0 up.

Having support from fellow Israeli player Shahar Peer in the stands didn’t seem to help Sela, as a couple of aces saw Nadal go 4-0 up. Sela did get on the scoreboard as he served a love service game to reduce the arrears to 4-1. Nadal further extended his lead to 5-1, and showing no signs of the cramp which severely hindered him in his previous match, broke Sela again to wrap up the first set 6-1, in just 28 minutes.

The Spaniard began the second set, as he ended the first, taking the first game in ruthless style. A stunning forehand was the highlight of the next game as Nadal broke again, though it was a double-fault from the Israeli which saw him go 2-0 up, he then served out in typical emphatic fashion to make it 3-0.

Sela had no answer to the constant flow of imperious forehands, as Nadal was beginning to turn in a vintage performance, leaving the Israeli helpless. Another break of serve saw Nadal increase his lead to 4-0, and while he then held serve to 5-0 up, the Israeli did bring a smile to the fans and Nadal when pleading for a point, after a terrific shot of his was called inches wide. Sela did his best to prevent losing the second set on his serve, but was unable to stem the tide, as Nadal converted his fifth set point to go two sets up with just 57 minutes on the clock.

However, just as Nadal’s passage into the fourth round seemed a matter of time, Sela started to enjoy himself out on the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal served first, and saved two break points to go 1-0 up. Sela drew the set level as he held serve, much to the delight of the crowd, though was soon back in a familiar position as Nadal served out to go 2-1 ahead. Sela, though again held his serve to tie the set at 2-2, before Nadal did likewise to edge 3-2 ahead. Sela then saved two break points to level again at 3-3, and then had a chance to break Nadal’s serve, and go 4-3 up, but spurning two break points, Nadal fought back to go 4-3 up. Sela again held to level the set at 4-4, as did Nadal, meaning the Israeli was serving to stay in the match, and he did just that to make it 5-5. While the momentum wasn’t exactly with Sela, he was definitely building up ahead of steam, and managed to win three break points, all of which were saved by Nadal – though he had to rely on a net cord for one of them – as he went 6-5 ahead, leaving Sela once again forced to serve to stay in the match. However, on this occasion he wasn’t able to, Nadal securing the win on his second match point.

Nadal said: “I played much better than the other day, I was feeling better today. The third set he had some chances, he’s a player with a good backhand and I was luck at the end. The match was a lot closer in the third set, the first two he made more mistakes than he usually does.”

Saturday’s action sees Israel’s sole representative Jonathan Erlich and Treat Huey of the Philippines, play their second round doubles match, against the ninth seeds, Swede Robert Lindstedt and Pole Marcin Matkowski, while first on the Margaret Court Arena is Italian Camila Giorgi, who takes on Venus Williams in her third round singles match.