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Summary

  1. Rafael Nadal beats American qualifier in five sets
  2. Spaniard wins 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 7-5
  3. Nadal received treatment during third set for illness
  4. Match takes four hours and 12 minutes
  5. GET INVOLVED: #bbctennis or 81111 on text

Live Reporting

By Mike Henson

All times stated are UK

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Rafael Nadal and Tim Smyczek
Getty Images

One hundred and seven winners, a possible on-court vomit and only a game or so difference over 252 minutes of a stratospheric tennis.

Rafael Nadal v Tim Smyczek is one to file away under unlikely classics in your tennis memory banks.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. See you back here soon for more of the same.

The result of that one will be in our round-up, but in the meantime let's take a little spin forward to tomorrow's schedule.

And what about this for a round two match-up? Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki against two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

That one gets going at 08:00 GMT on Margaret Court while Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur give Rod Laver Arena a local twang.

Bear in mind that it is now 23:50 in Melbourne. On a weeknight as well.

The action is not nearly done on the Rod Laver Arena though.

Jarmila Gajdosova, born in Bratislava, living in Dallas, but representing Australia, is currently taking on third seed Simona Halep of Romania.

She is 2-1 down in the opening set after losing her serve.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

Bernard Tomic
AP

It has been a good day to be at Melbourne Park.

While Rafa was scraping into the third round, over on the Margaret Court Arena, Bernard Tomic got the home fans a'hollering with a four-set win over 22nd seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber.

He will play another Australian in the third round in the shape of Sam Groth - who disposed of teenage compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis over five sets.

After that scare, Rafael Nadal will be pleased that it is not the face of 2012 Wimbledon conqueror Lukas Rosol that will greet him at the third round coin toss.

The Czech 28th seed was beaten by Israel's Dudi Sela earlier today in the match next to this one in the draw.

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Fahad Khan: This is why tennis missed Rafael Nadal. What a player - a gigantic pillar of raw mental strength.

Nick Wall: Unlucky Smyczek; he played a great match, but that was superb defiance from Nadal. Indomitable champion.

Mr H: Fantastic, fantastic match of tennis. Well done Rafa and really well done Tim. Great entertainment. Shame has to be a loser.

Rafael Nadal: "Today the conditions were a little humid for me. I tried to deal with my condition and the support of a fantastic crowd really helped.

"I don't know what was going on. In the second set I started having cramps around my body, but all these processes are normal after a long time off the tour and hopefully I will be back to my normal level soon."

Nadal also takes time to congratulate Tim Smyczek on his performance and thank him for an moment in the final game where the American let him retake his first serve after a shout from the crowd interrupted him mid ball toss.

Rafael Nadal of Spain, right, shakes hands with Tim Smyczek
AP

Tim Smyczek departs to 15,001 pairs of clapping hands. Not only is every spectator off their seat and applauding, but Rafael Nadal takes a moment from packing his bag to join in.

Absolutely every decibel is fully deserved as well.

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It's a sign of Nadal's greatness to get through that match. It means so much to him to win a tennis match. It was a phenomenal effort from Smyczek too."

David Law

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Nadal celebrates as if he's won the title but he's only into the second round. He can't believe he's won."

Game, set and match

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 7-5 Smyczek

Rafael Nadal
AP

Rafael Nadal, almost working on muscle memory, is clinical for the first three.

A serve out wide, followed in for 15-0.

A backhand volley pins the open court for 30-0.

Another tee-off straight into the American's body brings up 40-0.

But Tim Smyczek is not going to bow out on a bum note.

Back he battles to 30-40 and Nadal with a clean play on the ball finds only the net!

Finally though Nadal finds the winning combination - a serve out wide, a big forehand back the other way and he can finally drop to his knees in celebration.

David Law

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"Poor old Smyczek who has battled the great Nadal for so long has finally wilted in the face of a barrage of hitting from Nadal. He did little wrong but we saw the greatness of Rafael Nadal there."

Nadal breaks

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-5 Smyczek

Rafael Nadal stretched as thinly as budget sandwich butter at 0-15, but he stays in the rally and finally gets his chance and lands brilliantly cross-court.

Smyczek nicks a point back with a big serve, but a dipping pass nails the American on the toes for 15-40 and two break points.

It only takes the one. Smyczek into the net. And out of the tournament? He has not much impression on the Nadal serve yet in this set.

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 5-5 Smyczek*

When you have been down into the depths of Grand Slam finals, maybe this doesn't really count as pressure.

Rafael Nadal is locked on and with the forehand looking well oiled he holds to love.

No tie-breaks in the fifth set remember. Fill that thermos, we could be here some time.

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 4-5 Smyczek

Rafael Nadal
Getty Images

As the balls travel up to Tim Smyczek's end, both players indulge in a bit of shadow stroke play, swatting thin air and staring down their opponent.

Let's get it on.

Seconds out and Rafael Nadal humps in a huge forehand winner for 15-30 and then has a tantalising look down the line at 30-30. His forehand flies a centimetre or two long and the Spaniard has his head in his hand.

That was the key point in the game and those are the margins. Nadal to serve to stay in the game next...

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It is amazing how relaxed Smyczek looks right now. It's an absolute privilege to watch this match. He's in a situation he's never been in before but he seems to be enjoying it."

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 4-4 Smyczek*

My word. What tennis.

Tim Smyczek whips a forehand winner off his shins and from way behind his baseline. Another 24-carat beauty follows, as he buries a backhand down the the line to bring up 15-30.

Rafael Nadal is finding the sweet spot as well though. The Spaniard runs around his forehand and finds a jagging angle for 40-30.

Smyczek crushes a return for deuce. More Nadal power closes the door.

String stretched as wide as pupils as the Rod Laver crowd lap it up.

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Smyczek is seeing the ball like a football. He is launching into big forehands and backhands to put the pressure on Nadal. He is hitting the ball so well."

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 3-4 Smyczek

How are those nerves?

Tim Smyczek's bottle gets tested as Rafael Nadal works up a 15-30 scoreline.

A big serve keeps the wolf from the door for the moment, but Rafael Nadal forces him deep and into the net to bring up break point.

First serve missed.

Second serve sits up pretty for Nadal to hit, but his backhand punt drifts well wide. That was a chance.

There are not any more offered up either. Two more missed returns and that game will feature heavily in Uncle Toni's post-mortem if this turns out to be a loss.

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 3-3 Smyczek*

Both players' serves are now looking locked down Fort Knox-tight.

It is Rafael Nadal's turn to hold to love - clumping power behind the forehand and piercing serves.

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 2-3 Smyczek

Tim Smyczek wouldn't bat an eyelid if Rafael Nadal pulled on roller-skates and replaced his usual racquet with one double the size.

The American looks totally unfazed by the situation and serves out to love with a thumping ace.

This is the bit where he is supposed to fold and we all congratulate him on a fight well fought.

This bit doesn't look like it is in Smyczek's script.

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 2-2 Smyczek*

Tim Smyczek
AP

And after two ding-donging games to open the deciding set, we have had two more straightforward ones to follow.

Rafael Nadal holds to 15, but as the Spaniard trots to the other end the crowd are not singing his name.

"Timmy! Timmy!" is the chant from large part of the Rod Laver Arena.

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 1-2 Smyczek

No sign of the winners running dry off Tim Smyczek's racquet. A forehand winner flows into a backhand winner and then an ace.

A hold to 15 and he strolls over to his chair and casually shakes up a bottle of isotonic as a reward.

A cracking stat from David Law on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra by the way: Nadal has won more Grand Slam titles (14) than Smyczek has played Grand Slam matches (13).

Put that in your pipe.

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Mr H: Great to see great players getting pushed all the way by lesser known players. Good for the sport!

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Smyczek will have to play relentless tennis. He'll need point after point of top-class tennis and that will be very hard to do against someone like Nadal."

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 1-1 Smyczek*

The game only gets underway after a minute or so of faffing around with a camera that is buzzing around in Tim Smyczek's eyeline behind Rafael Nadal's serving arm.

It was worth the wait. Without the distraction, Smyczek absolutely smites a forehand returns for a clean winner and 30-30.

Not a flicker of celebration from the American. He is saving all that for a possible win.

Smyczek unloads the full payload in the next two rallies, walloping everything within reach and it is enough to crowbar the deuce door open.

Nadal can dance to this mix though. Two thumping forehands of his own close out the game.

Two slug-fest games to open the decider and that is just how we, and the Rod Laver crowd, like it.

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Nadal is certainly moving better now and his forehand is looking more potent, but maybe this is Smyczek's moment."

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 0-1 Smyczek

A beautifully weighted backhand volley from Tim Smyczek wins one rally. A blur of a return from Rafael Nadal on the next.

Plenty of quality still out there despite the late hour and the physical demands.

Another pearler from Nadal, a backhand down the line, brings up deuce.

The Spaniard runs around a forehand and fires a shot down the same trajectory on the next rally for a break point.

Tim Smyczek has shown titanium nerves though and lures Nadal into the net as he keeps hitting depth despite the scoreline.

A sledgehamer forehand from the American recovers another and he finally closes the lid on the game with a big serve.

A chance missed for Nadal, but there will be more. Can Smyzcek create his own opportunities?

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Rachel Innes: The stats between Smyczek and Nadal are interesting. Fifth set match with a Slam champ is virtually unknown territory for Smyczek.

Experience on Nadal's side

  • Rafael Nadal has won 710 matches in his career; Smyczek 23 matches
  • Nadal has won 16 five-set matches; Smyczek has only played three (won two)
Tim Smyczek
EPA

This bathroom is getting more use than a Portaloo on the last day of Glastonbury. Tim Smyczek excuses himself ahead of the start of the decider.

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Nadal has such resilience. He's facing adversity and isn't feeling very well but he managed to compose himself. He knows how to manage his time between points and conserve his energy. That comes from experience. Smyczek hasn't got that experience, especially over five sets, and he'll need to lift his game again."

Nadal wins fourth set

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 Smyczek*

Tim Smyczek has a good one-two punch tactic worked out - returning deep, cramping up Rafael Nadal and then pinging down the line into wide corridors of space - but it is not enough to save him.

Rafael Nadal stretches him out wide with a serve at 40-30 and Smyczek flings himself left but can't block back.

We are into a fifth. And it is probably advantage Nadal after he steered himself home in the fourth and started to look a little less green.

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 5-3 Smyczek

A bit of non-event of a game.

Tim Smyczek holds to love as Rafael Nadal, who has been looked a little better health-wise after all that deep breathing and head-between-the-knees stuff earlier in the set, saves himself to try and serve out successfully.

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 5-2 Smyczek*

Rafael Nadal does just enough to keep his nose just ahead. He closes out with a precise serve out wide that Tim Smyczek takes a look and realises is already beyond him.

Nadal breaks

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 4-2 Smyczek

Which will give out first? Rafa's health or Tim's stamina?

Nadal did not have to do much to move ahead in the fourth set as Smyczek loses his groundstroke mojo, planting a couple of forehands into the net.

The Spaniard fires elegantly across court to seal the game though.

This could get ugly. Closing-time pub-car-park massive-airshot-haymakers ugly as these two battle their bodies and try and stay aggressive.

David Law

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

Rafael Nadal
AFP

"You have question marks as to how seriously ill or hurt he is. There's something wrong but how bad is it and what is it? We don't know the answers. Can he bounce back? Even now I still think Nadal can win this match. It's been a strange day, what with Federer being stung by a bee as well as Sharapova's match."

Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 3-2 Smyczek*

A cruisey hold from Rafael Nadal as Tim Smyczek's rather casual slice forehand return floats long.

He will have to mine some deep reserves of grit to get out of this spot of bother though.

One Rafa fans in the stands - a lady in her mid-20s - is wearing a particularly glum expression along with supportive facepaint and a headband bearing her hero's name complete with little hearts at the apex of the 'A's.

Leon Smith

GB Davis Cup captain on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Nadal is struggling again. He didn't move to one of those serves. He didn't even attempt to stretch for it."

*Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-7 (2-7) 2-2 Smyczek

Rafael Nadal
AP

Rafael Nadal may have that trademark lasso forehand, but Tim Smyczek has some weapons of his own.

Two aces - his 11th and 12th of the match - come along with an increasingly familiar jumping backhand swat and a sublime pick-up winner from the back of the court. He holds to 30 and Nadal is spending long periods between points slumped over and breathing deeply.

I would get the doctor back on soonish if I were him.