Australian Open: Thiem sends nadal packing

Austrian gets past the World No.1 at the Australian Open to secure his maiden Grand Slam semi-final spot
Australian Open: Thiem sends nadal packing
Dominic Thiem

Melbourne

Dominic Thiem ended six years of Grand Slam frustration against Spaniard Rafael Nadal on Wednesday with a seismic 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(6) upset that booked his maiden Australian Open semi-final spot.

After pulling off a nerve-shredding win that quashed doubts about his prowess on hard courts, the 26-year-old Austrian will face Alexander Zverev for a place in the final, a match-up scarcely imaginable at the start of the tournament.

Fifth seed Thiem will head into Friday’s clash against the young German brimming with confidence, having ended top seed Nadal’s bid for a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title. Turning the tables on the man who had beaten him in all five of their previous Grand Slam meetings, including the last two French Open finals, Thiem became only the second Austrian to reach the last four at Melbourne Park, following Thomas Muster’s runs in 1989 and 1997.

In a grandstand finish with the terraces roaring, Nadal saved two match points in the decisive tie-break but surrendered on the third when he slammed a forehand into the net. The result was different but the match had echoes of the pair’s five-set marathon at the 2018 US Open quarter-finals, when Nadal finally prevailed at 2:04am local time after four hours and 49 minutes of gut-wrenching play.

This time, after four hours and 10 minutes, the Spaniard left with plenty of regrets. The net cord was decisively in Thiem’s corner. He clipped it with a backhand winner that secured the final match point. “I really feel I was lucky in the right situation. The net cord was on my side,” an exhausted Thiem said on court.

Zverev into last four for the first time
German seventh seed Alexander Zverev recovered from a slow start to beat former champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the Australian Open and reach his first career Grand Slam semi-final. Zverev was once considered one of the leading ‘Next Gen’ contenders to break the Grand Slam hegemony of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have shared the last 12 majors between them. But the German, who beat Federer and Djokovic on his way to the 2018 ATP Finals title, fell off the radar as he failed to get past the quarter-finals at the majors. “It feels awesome, I don’t know what to say,” said Zverev.

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