Rafael Nadal gave journalists an unexpected scoop when he accidentally broke an Australian Open story before organizers had the chance to go public with the shock development on Sunday night.
Ninth seed Matteo Berrettini pulled out of his Round of 16 match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, handing the Greek star a walkover into the quarterfinals where he’ll face Nadal.
The Spaniard beat Italian villain Fabio Fognini in straight sets earlier in the day and was speaking to the media when he mistakenly let slip he was preparing to face Tsitsipas in the quarters — even though the fifth seed hadn’t yet defeated Berrettini.
“I need to make another step forward against Tsitsipas. Is it official? He’ll play tonight? Well, I don’t know, maybe,” Nadal said as he tried to backtrack, before giving up.
“I think I heard that Berrettini was a little bit injured but not official at all. Sorry for that. But yeah, something … well, I messed it up.”
Tournament organizers could hardly keep the secret after that slip of the tongue and quickly released an official announcement confirming Berrettini had withdrawn from the grand slam with an abdominal strain, which flared up in his third round win over Karen Khachanov.
“Matteo Berrettini has withdrawn from his fourth-round Australian Open match tonight due to an abdominal strain. We wish him a speedy recovery,” said the official Australian Open Twitter feed.
Berrettini’s shock exit will give Tsitsipas more time to recover and save him adding extra miles on his legs, which may prove an advantage as we get deeper into the two-week tournament.
Berrettini was gutted to pull out, but said it wasn’t professional to step onto the court without being fully fit.
“I’m really sorry to say that I got injured in the last match I played. I felt something on my ab,” said the Italian, who was scheduled to be the last match of the evening.
“I thought it wasn’t something really big but the next day when I woke up I felt it was big so I spoke to the doctors and they told me it can get worse, so it’s not worth the try.
“I’m not 100 percent. To beat these guys, you have to be 100 percent and it’s not really professional to step in when you’re not the best. It’s just bad luck I was feeling it (the injury) especially on my second serve. I don’t know why, what’s the explanation, but I was feeling a lot (of pain). I couldn’t play. I really tried hard, but unfortunately I’m not able to play tonight.”