Udayavni Special

Australian Open: Thiem stuns Nadal to set up semi-final with Zverev


PTI, Jan 29, 2020, 7:54 PM IST

Melbourne: Austria’s Dominic Thiem stunned Rafael Nadal Wednesday to send the world number one tumbling out of the Australian Open and set up a semi-final against Alexander Zverev.

The fifth seed, beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals, battled past the Spaniard 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (8/6) to deny him a crack at a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title.

He will now meet German seventh seed Zverev who shattered the dreams of veteran Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to book a maiden place in a Grand Slam last four.

Awaiting the winner of that clash will be either seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or six-time winner Roger Federer, who meet in the other semi-final.

“All the match was on a very good level, I think we are both in great form,” said Thiem, only the second Austrian to make the Melbourne semis after Thomas Muster,  the man he sacked this week as an advisor.

“Today I had the feeling I was lucky in the right situation. It is necessary because he is one of the greatest of all time. You need some luck to beat him.” Top seed Nadal had a 9-4 record over Thiem and had beaten him in all their five previous Slam meetings.

But the last time they played on hardcourts at the 2018 US Open quarter-finals it was a five-set marathon.

And the signs pointed that way again, with the opening set on serve to 2-2 before Thiem, gunning for a first Grand Slam title, worked a breakpoint but couldn’t convert.

Both baseline-huggers, it became a slugfest before Nadal managed to open some doors on the Thiem serve in game eight and he broke with a perfect lob from the back of the court.

But Thiem came roaring back, breaking back with a ripping crosscourt return. He saved a set point to take it to a tie-breaker where he stunned Nadal to seal a one-set lead.

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