Melbourne | Thiem removes Nadal from the AO
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Dominic Thiem has finally got the better of Rafa Nadal in a final having suffered defeats over the last couple of years in Barcelona and twice at Roland Garros!
All the match was on a very good level, I think we are both in great form Dominic Thiem
He has come close before and this time his 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) victory came after four-hours and 10-minutes of brutal exchanges and lung busting tennis.
The drama as to whether the fifth seed could cause an upset, went down to the wire.
Nadal, with a 9-4 record against Thiem, had beaten him in all their five previous meetings at the slams, the last time at a major being an epic five-setter quarter-final at the 2018 US Open.
With both of them hugging the baseline, it became a back of the court slugfest from the opening moments with Thiem edging the first set on the tiebreak and then repeating that in the second after trailing 3-2.
Nadal received a warning for taking too long to serve resulting in him double faulting and letting Thiem level at 4-all.
Nadal saved a set point before it went to another tie-break where Thiem prevailed thanks to a lucky net cord.
Leading by two sets to love, Thiem had worked his way into a commanding position but not surprisingly, Nadal’s fighting spirit wouldn’t let the Austrian run away with it!
The third set was similarly tight, with no breaks until Nadal took advantage of some Thiem errors when he served to stay in the set, pumping his fists in celebration.
With Nadal now threatening to make a strong comeback, Thiem had to refocus and grab back the initiative which he did in the third game of the fourth thanks to the number one shanking a forehand to drop serve and then held on to retain the advantage and give himself the opportunity to serve out at 5-4!
Nerves must have struck him as the realisation hit him that he was on the verge of a historic victory resulting in him playing a very poor game.
However, he recovered his poise in the tie-break and for the third time in the evening and after losing two match points, he successfully made it to the semi-finals courtesy of a netted forehand from Nadal.
Thiem, beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals, had never reached the last eight here before but on this sort of form, the Austrian has a good chance of winning his first grand slam title.
“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.
“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.”
He now faces Alexander Zverev who came back from a poor opening set to rout Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 champion while, in the bottom half of the draw, the next big clash sees Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer fight for a place in the final tomorrow.