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Aussie Open: Thiem upsets Nadal to reach semi-finals

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first_imgRelatedPosts Djokovic clinches fifth Italian Open title Djokovic zooms to 10th Italian Open final Thiem claims his first Grand Slam title after thrilling fightback in US Open Dominic Thiem produced a superb performance to send an angry Rafael Nadal tumbling out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals. The world number one had hoped to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slam singles titles but that will have to wait after fifth seed Thiem powered his way to a 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) 4-6 7-6 (6) victory to set up a clash with Alexander Zverev. Zverev had joked of his rivals: “I’ll have a cold glass of Coke sitting in my hotel room with my AC (air conditioning) hopefully watching them play for six hours.” It did not quite take that long but after four hours and 10 minutes it was Thiem who clinched another dramatic Melbourne encounter. He looked like he might have blown his chance when he played a horribly nervous game serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set but recovered impressively in the tie-break. Nadal saved two match points, the second with a HawkEye challenge after a Thiem lob had been called in, but on the third the Spaniard netted a forehand. Thiem, beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals, had never reached the last eight here before but, if he can maintain this form, he will have a good chance of winning a first grand slam title. Nadal would have expected a fierce battle, having taken nearly five hours to see off Thiem in their only previous grand slam meeting on hard courts at the US Open in 2018. The 26-year-old has improved significantly since then and he stunned Nadal time and again with his power off forehand and backhand, his court coverage and the way he was able to recover from seemingly desperate positions. Thiem has surely never played better yet Nadal will be hugely disappointed that he did not capitalise on leads he had in both the first two sets. The Spaniard had wobbled in sight of the finish line against Nick Kyrgios on Monday, but his opponent had not been able to make him pay. Thiem was much more ruthless. After breaking for 5-3, Nadal attempted to serve out the opening set and had one set point but could not take it and back came the Austrian. One of Nadal’s greatest strengths has been his mental fortitude at the biggest moments, yet there were more errors in the tie-break. The top seed played more aggressively at the start of the second set and got his reward with a break for 3-2, but a time violation in the next game left him furious, Nadal saying to umpire Aurelie Tourte: “You don’t like the good tennis.” He lost his rhythm completely, becoming increasingly agitated with a malfunctioning fan next to his seat and allowing Thiem to break back for 4-4 with a meek double fault. Nadal saved one set point at 5-6 and fought back from 0-4 to 4-4 in the tie-break only to play a dreadful drop shot two points later, giving Thiem the impetus to take the set, with a little help from the net cord. Competitors do not come more determined than Nadal but it is 13 years since he won a match from two sets down. He took a step towards it by breaking Thiem to win the third, crouching down and fist-pumping wildly in celebration. Nadal had three chances to break again at the start of the fourth but Thiem dug in just when it looked like the momentum had really turned and wrestled it back in his direction.Tags: Alexander ZverevAustralia OpenDominic ThiemHawkEyeRafael Nadallast_img read more