Australian Open: Thiem topples world No.1 Nadal to make semis

World No.1 Rafael Nadal toppled in epic four-setter as Dominic Thiem enters first Australian Open semifinal

Dominic Thiem overcame Rafael Nadal in four sets to make the 2020 Australian Open semifinal, where he will take on Alexander Zverev.   -  Twitter (@atptour)

Here are the highlights from the quarter-final match between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Thiem will be meeting Alexander Zverev in the semifinal on Friday.  Thiem beats Nadal in four sets: 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-7(6)

 

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

In what was poised to be a riveting, enticing physical marathon, Dominic Thiem has risen to the challenge to drub the best player in the world in Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard blinked at crucial moments and a rock-solid World No.5 Thiem made the most of the limited opportunities!

 

And he's done it! DOMINIC THIEM! The World No.1 is knocked out of the Australian Open!

4 | TB | 6-7 | WHAT A RIPPER! He nails the pass in the nick of time! And Nadal is in agony!

4 | TB |6-6 | It goes out... by milimetres. Nadal is worried but yes! He is right in there again! Thiem has lost his biggest chance to close the match and now needs to return to his peak to dodge Rafa!

4 | TB | 5-6 | My my my..... Thiem misses a sitter! In excitement he has flushed it right on the net!

4 | TB| 4-6 | MATCH POINT FOR THIEM!!

4 | TB | 4-5 | Nerve wracking stuff here! I am lost for words, Nadal barely lives on!

4 | TB | 3-5 |  Pinpoint serve and volley from Rafa!!

4 | TB | 2-5 | He rumbles and tumbles and yet comes out victorious! Nadal pushing it wide once again and forcing the hammer on him!

4 | TB | 2-4 | Goes just about to the wire!!! And Thiem emerges on top from a sizzling volley! Out of this world!

4 | TB | 2-3 | Nadal flinches once again on the forehand! Crucial point for Thiem!

4 | TB | 2-2 | Thiem powers it in and Nadal retorts with aggression and slews it off court!

4 | TB | 2-1 | Nadal on top!

4 |  TB | 1-1 | Not the time to be cheeky. Thiem misses the slice as it hits the net!

4 | TB | 0-1 - Nadal fluffs it wide!

4: 6-6 | Oh my! Another tiebreak and deservingly so! A great recovery from the Austrian and this now goes down to the wire.

4: 6-5 | 15-0 | He leaps in and just manages keep it down on the volley at the net! Goodness me - how do you have your arms in place under such crunch moments - maybe that's what separates the best from the rest.

4: 6-5 | What a turnaround. We saw it once yesterday with Federer and Nadal in his bid for a semifinal has to replicate something similar in spectacular fashion. Thiem is off the radar in the past 10 minutes....

Stuff of legend!

 

4: 5-5 | VAMOS! Rafa roars as the ball soars past him. It flies off wide as Thiem crumbles under pressure! What a comeback!

4: 4-5 | 40-30 | Ace under pressure. A stellar serve from Thiem!

4: 4-5 | 40-15 | He cannot miss this one! Rafa with 2 break points.

4: 4-5 | 30-15 | Nadal gets the lead!

World No.1 on the edge.....

4: 4-5 |15-15 | The new balls flying off a bit too long for Thiem. Crashes just off the baseline.

4: 4-5 | 0-15 | A big serve from Thiem! Hardly gives Nadal a chance to pass through...

 

4: 4-5 | Nadal holds! A do-or-die for the World No.1 as Dominic Thiem serves for the match!

Never seen a grimace on the face of Rafa in a long while.......

4: 3-5 | And that's in! On the line and Dominic Thiem is a game away from the Australian Open semi-finals!

4: 3-4 | Rafa desperately lunges on. "Vamos" shouts Nadal!

4: 2-4 | 30-30 | Nadal on the edge.........

4: 2-4 | Thiem aces and inches himself close on to that semifinal berth! Nadal outclassed by a right-handed clone here!

4: 2-3 | Thiem is bombing back the returns but it does little to deter Nadal on serve with that legendary forehand! He keeps himself on the brink. Nothing matters for the Spaniard unless he makes a break of serve off Thiem.

4: 1-3 | Thiem is the favourite right now. On form and composure, Thiem has refined himself back to the top!

Man of Steel!

 

Surely, a mountain to climb for Nadal (Imagine saying this after three and a half hours on court!)

4: 1-2 | The champ is broken! Vicious from Dominic Thiem who just slides in through a moderate serve from Nadal.

4: 1-1 | Thiem holds, once again, he finds a way! Nadal wriggled a bit after an argument with the chair umpire over a late call for a challenge and the Austrian remains calm as ever!

4: 1-0 | DEUCE | He has nailed the serve and volley in a decisive moment - Thiem!

4: 1-0 | Break Point | Nadal on the charge here. For the first time, Thiem being challenged on serve!

4: 1-0 | DEUCE | Thiem braves against two break points to equalise the scores!  Nerves of steel!

Goodness me guys, it's been almost an hour each for each of the three sets! It has gone by my word - a visual spectacle!

4: 1-0 | Nadal reigns supreme even as a determined Thiem looks stunning in return.

Set 4 underway........(The marathon continues)

Vamos Rafa!

 

THE CHAMP IS BACK! Rafa breaks Thiem at the brink! He roars and soars right back into this one! Game on for the 19-time Grand Slam champion, folks!

3: 5-4 | 40-15 | SET POINT for Rafael Nadal!

3: 5-4 | 30-0 | He is forcing a break is Nadal. Two points away from taking the set!

3: 5-4 | Nadal staying in the moment. He would not like the prospect of another tiebreak but Nadal is not flinching too soon. Will a decisive break emerge? Thiem on serve!

The air is more cooler now and there is some respite for Rafa!

3: 4-3 | Like I said earlier, there is hardly anything that separates these two powerhouses on their serve. Another set which goes into the deciding tiebreak, I presume. Despite it all, Rafa is on the edge!

Oh! Rafa......

 

3: 3-2 | Hardly a minute! A serving game of the highest order. Nadal hasn't given up, like always.  He has not however found a way to break Thiem out of this yet. The young lad is just sound in his game and mindset!

3: 2-2 | Thiem holds on! He refuses to give an inch of space for Nadal to break through. Both players draining one another in a flurry across a cross-court frenzy. 

3: 2-1 | That backhand is out of this world! Nadal is clueless and it's one of the rare sights on a tennis court. Marvel the consistency and finesse of Dominic Thiem!

3: 2-1 | Nadal looks flawless on serve, so has been the case of Thiem. No wonder the two sets have finished in a tiebreaker. Consistency over long hauls deciding the winner both times!

3: 1-1 | Thiem keeps his serve short and crisp. Nadal hardly standing a chance on return.

Admire the consistency that Thiem has maintained in this contest. How many players have managed to keep Nadal on the edge like he has done today ..

3: | 1-0 | Nadal is livid with himself and he looks determined to make amends. But is it too late?

SET 3 begins: Do-or-die for the World No.1 .....

 

2: 6-7 | He has clinched it! Thiem takes this away from Nadal! Oh my, this is astounding from Dominic Thiem. He has put the World No.1 to the sword!

2: TB | 4-6 | Set Point for Thiem! Nadal makes the sly drop, risky and he pays the price! Thiem crashes the forehand!

2: TB | 4-5 | Thiem leads, with Nadal on serve.

2: TB | 4-4 | Four on the trot! Rafa has hung in there, barely and has kept it alive!

2: TB | 3-4 | Nadal finding his way back into this one! Narrows the lead with Thiem next on serve.

2: TB | 0-4 | Magical. Thiem is calling the shots here and sizzles on the volley after a brilliant serve!

2: TB | 0-3 | Thiem raising the bar, making the Spaniard stretch wide and hard and Rafa has no answers to this mastery.

2: 6-6 | TIEBREAK | Nadal living on the edge to square this one! He takes it to the tiebreak! Thiem has put Nadal on the edge but the champion rolls on, for now!

2: 5-6 | 30-40 | Pressure on Nadal! A set point for Dominic Thiem!

2: 5-6 | 0-30 | Thiem floors the maestro! Nadal is visibly stunned and shell-shocked.

 

2: 5-6 | Thiem holds his nerve! If Nadal trounces here, it will be a mountain to climb for the Spaniard in  a quest to his elusive Australian open titlle.

2: 5-5 | 15-30 | This is epic! He covers the court like a cheetah! And Thiem feeds it to the animal!

2: 5-5 | Nadal scrapes through! He is ecstatic. A bit too much for a win on his serve. Pressure, eh!?

2: 4-5 | The momentum shifts! It is at the death of the second set that Nadal has squandered once again. Thiem's bar has been the same throughout. But Nadal, with a disastrous last serve has put himself under the hammer once again.

2: 4-4 | Dominic Thiem is a fighter! He fights back in all might and he has put Rafa out of sorts once again. Breaking back straightaway for the second time in the match! 

2: 4-3 | 0-40 | And he is right back in it!!! Thiem gets a chance to break, Nadal under pressure, once again failing to convert at the right time!

2: 4-3 | Thiem keeps it alive. He needs to make a break, pretty soon. Nadal is growing back to his best form.

2: 4-2 | Nadal keeps the lead on! He is riled up now. Thiem has not looked one bit below the Spaniard but in momentary standards Rafa just stretches it to a master-class - which dominates Thiem!

2: 3-2 | 30-30 | This is electrifying! Thiem had the number over Nadal in this one, a forever rally and Nadal maintains composure before blasting the point!

 

2: 3-2 | Nadal makes the beak! Thiem failing big this time on serve and against the best player in the world, such misses could become dreary and decisive!

2: 2-2 | 40-0 | And he fist-pumps with grit! Nadal smashes in the poor drop from Thiem. Two mistakes have put him in threat here.

2: 2-2 | 30-0 | Nadal is surging ahead now. He stands tall in the passing shot and Thiem almost trips in an attempt to reach for the ball!

2: 2-2 | Nadal is back to his best; that is when we see a game which lasts merely a minute. Thiem not following the line of serve and has a folly reply to the Spaniard.

2: 1-2 | Thiem revels under pressure! He surely does. Nadal threatened to make a break but the Austrian has pulled his way out of trouble with a spree of blistering serves!

2: 1-1 | 30-15 | A terrific response! 205km/h that one! Thiem acing his way out of trouble.

2: 1-1 | 30-0 | A big break for Nadal here!

2: 1-1 | Easy for Rafa! A forehand masterclass from the Spaniard leaves his oppent with absolutely nothing to do - he can merely watch and perhaps try to enjoy the flair with which Nadal just drilled this down!

2:  0-1 | Thiem cruises through the serve! Nadal troubled by the fluffed up balls even as Thiem finds it easy to push in a stronger serve. 

SET 2: Underway

Thiem here, has not succumbed to the big stage pressure. He has faced it before - in particular with Nadal as well  and this has clearly been a matter of consistent display of skills and Thiem has rightly deserved a hard-earned one-set lead.

The bulldog meets a Austrian challenge!

 

Thiem has stunned the World No.1!! He has opened the count here and has put Nadal under immense pressure. Both the players - equally mastering the serve and volley but Nadal stumbled at the wrong time. Thiem was consistent and stayed in line for the return and has given it all which has tested Nadal's mindset to see off a strong player from continuous lines!

1: 6-7 - Thiem

1: TB | Set point for Thiem

1: TB | 3 - 5 | Nadal in disbelief! He misses this one as Thiem closes in on the set!

1: TB | 3-4 | Nadal pounces on this one! Makes room for his forehand and slashes across the court!

1: TB | 2-4 | Thiem is growing in on the Spaniard. Nadal faltering twice by unforced errors, lined up from Theim's fiery forehand!

1: TB | 2-3 | Nadal has failed on serve! Thiem takes both points as Nadal flails the shot on to the net!

1: TB | 2-2 | This is epic! Take a bow Dominic Thiem! Nadal stretches himself at the net but Thiem just gliding this out of his reach!

1: TB | 2-0 | The cheetah approaches the net and mauls it completely. Leaving no chance for the Austrian here!

1: TB | 1-0 | That's cheeky from Nadal, absolutely stumps Thiem with a gracious drop!

1: 6-6 - Tiebreak | An hour into the match and we are just into the first set tiebreak. Neither player refusing to give it away and we have a marathon up ahead!

1: 6-5 | Nadal sweating profusely!

1: 6-5 | Nadal manages to hold off Thiem as a swinging ball puts pressure on Dom's one-handed backhand. Is this heading to a tiebreak!?

1: 5-5 | 15-15 | Out of the world! An amazing rally and Thiem emerges victorious. Nadal powers one wide - forcing Thiem to slice up but his approach his met with a jaw dropping return from Thiem. Nadal sweats hard and is a little wayward in decision making!

1: 5-5 | Not so easy Rafa! Thiem vows to fight as well and my, my this is some high-octane tennis here, the approach reverted with a slice which the Spaniard fails to cover up. It's not easy to put Rafa off his feet, isn't it!?

1: 5-4 | DEUCE | The bulldog fights on! The World No.1 is aiming to break back right away and he has Thiem on the edge.

1: 5-4 | A visual spectacle thus far just as I had mentioned before the start. Inch by inch, none of them giving it away!

 

1: 5-4 | That's a stunner! An emphatic return from Thiem, the flare and the finesse, is jawdropping. He survives a set point threat for Rafa and breaks back straightaway!

1: 5-3 | DEUCE | Ten minutes into this game! Nadal having to toil hard this time!

1: 5-3 | It does not get any better! Nadal shows his class by making Thiem tumble, indecisively. The Austrian leaps in return in the next volley and snatches another break point!

1: 5-3 | A break point for Thiem. This time he reads the serve and smash it back to Nadal who has no chance on that whatsoever!

1: 5-3 | DEUCE | The Austrian looks a much better player when he kicks the pedal, full throttle. Approaches the net as Nadal squeezes in a drop and is brilliantly devoured by a smash from Thiem.

1: 5-3 | Set Point for Rafa!

1: 5-3 | 15-30 | Thiem strikes back as Nadal fails on the approach. The Austrian's power a little too much for Nadal to cross over.

1: 5-3: Nadal breaks! A massive point there! Nadal soars the ball up high and Thiem could not cover up for the return!  Nadal makes it, just in space and time.  The Spaniard serves for the first set!

1: 4-3: Three break points for Nadal! A big break here for Nadal! Loose unforced errors costing Thiem here.

 

1: 4-3: Nadal storms through! In a minute, Nadal has slashed back - forcing the slice from Thiem and Nadal lunges on to it. He will continue to do so, every, single, time!

1: 3-3: Thiem looking unbreakable on serve. Nadal is struck with the pace that Thiem has got in his strokes.

1: 3-2 | 30-40 | This is quality tennis from both the players. As much as Nadal tries to play in on his forehand by covering up space, Thiem boosts up those groundstrokes.

1: 3-2: Thiem on serve. Amazing power in the rally, occasionally making Rafa blip. Thiem will need it all along!

1: 3-2: Nadal almost broken! But keeps it alive. Thiem misses the backhand which just goes off the baseline as it bounces. Nadal was in for a stiff test there and narrowly escapes a break. 

1: 2-2 | 30-15 | The super-striking forehand drubs Thiem. Just put into Nadal's arc and he just grinds it down the left baseline!

1: 2-2 | 15-15 | Thiem is on to outright aggression. He has unlocked the code to keep Nadal in check and has pounced in on the volley and smashes off Nadal's reach, the Spaniard being well deceived.

1: 2-2: Thiem on the attack! And he keeps Nadal quiet, no huff-puff and no grunts!

1: 2-1: | 30-0 | Thiem approaches the net for the volley and finishes it in style! In total control while on serve, Nadal will have a huge task to break the serve as the contest deepens.

Three games into the clash and there were already multiple mouth-watering exchanges between the two!

1: 2-1: Nadal holds his serve. He has targeted Thiem's backhand and with the riled up pace on the ball, the Austrian finding it difficult to control.

1: 1-1 | 30-15 | And the marathon continues...Thiem winning this return. He looks positive in return and drags one wide with 146km/h forehand!

1: 1-1 | 15-0 | A 25 shot rally! Pure shotmaking, with pace and precision and this certainly going to last throughout the match.

1: 1-1, Thiem holds convincingly! Nadal already feeling the extra pace off the ball and awkwardly puts it off to the stands!!

1: 1-0, Nadal takes his serve. Attacks Thiem's backhand and he flashes it out wide.

1: 30-15, Nadal has an early idea of the menace that Thiem can be. A ripping backhand shot crossing Nadal!

SET 1: 15-0, And he starts with a bang!

Nadal to serve.....

SET 1: Rafa Nadal v Dominic Thiem

The power-hitter that Dominic Thiem can be on the clay-courts, must be the Austrian's greatest weapon as he improves his hard-court prowess as well. As the evening is hotter than usual, it is advantage Thiem who is regarded as a more powerful server than Rafa. However, the 26-year-old can be a languid returner and if he tries to block his way out of trouble, Nadal will dash him in the blink of an eye!  Will this go to the wire? All that we would say it is not going to be an easy match for either of them!

1st Set is underway in a few moments.......

Nadal chooses to serve at the toss - followed by the photograph along the net-lines with Thiem.

 

Welcome folks, Melbourne Park is ready for some blazing action and so are we! World No.5 Dominic Thiem enters the Rod Laver Arena and is followed by the Spanish Matador, Rafa Nadal!

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Form Guide

 

Nadal - Round 1 – v Dellion – 6-2, 6-3, 6-0

Round 2 - v Delbonis – 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1

Round 3 – v -27-Carreno Busta – 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

Round 4 – v -23-Kyrgios – 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4)

 

Thiem - Round 1 – v Mannarino – 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

Round 2 - v Bolt – 6-2, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2

Round 3 – v -29-Carreno Busta – 6-1, 6-2, 6-4

Round 4 – v -10 – Monfils – 6-2, 6-4, 6-4

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As the evening swells up under a serene Melbourne sky, the Rod Laver Arena will be fired up in an exciting clash of two different generations! The ‘King of Clay’ who has almost the French Open an affair of his own, faces his potential apprentice, the heir to the throne on Wednesday evening.

Yes – World No.1 Rafael Nadal takes on the 26-year-old No.5, Dominic Thiem in a contest that is poised to stage impeccable shot-making, grit and passion in a probable marathon mania!

In their 13 previous encounters, Nadal has had the edge over the Austrian nine times while Thiem emerged victorious on four occasions. Their only hard-court meeting – an epic at the quarter-final of the 2018 US Open – had a five-hour spectacle where the Spaniard held his nerve to come out as the winner.

Thiem, a potential ‘giant-killer’ will hope to thrive on his competitive performances in the past against Nadal. He had a brilliant finish to 2019 where he had routed Federer and Novak Djokovic in successive matches. Thiem, the 2019 French Open finalist who lost to Nadal – is playing in his first Australian Open quarter-final. Even as Nadal holds the edge after a Kyrgios challenge, Thiem can prove a strong force to reckon with. A visual feast is on the cards!

Remember this epic hard-court battle between the two?