The winner speaks
Serving for the match against Rafa was such a really mentally tough situation. I couldn't handle it, but turned it around in the tie-breaker. I'm very happy I won the tie-break because otherwise we would be in a fifth set now.
���� Thiem v Zverev ����— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 29, 2020
���� Federer v Djokovic ����
The semis are set! #AusOpen
The big man falls
Thiem beats Nadal
What a match. After four hours and 11 minutes, Thiem finally, FINALLY sees it out. He looked to have crumbled on multiple occasions but what a well-deserved victory. Some fine, fine tennis on display and the No 1 seed is sent packing in the last eight.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-7 (6-8) Thiem
An early mini-break for Thiem as his great depth puts Nadal on the back foot and forces the Spaniard off balance for 0-1, but Thiem then plops a bizarre drop shot into the net (1-1) and his backhand sails long when aborting an attempting serve-volley, which puts Nadal 2-1 up. The Austrian levels at 2-2, before Nadal is pushed backwards and fails to clear the net with what should have been a simple forehand (2-3). Thiem then holds his cool at the net even with Nadal haring all over the court and volleys well for a 2-4 lead.
Victory is back in Thiem's sights... and he recovers from a mid-rally tumble to win the next point even after hitting the deck with the ball still in play (2-5). A fine serve gives Rafa one point back for 3-5 and the gap is made smaller when Thiem finds the net (4-5). Thiem has balls in hand though. A massive first serve forces Nadal into the net and gives Thiem two match points at 4-6. But how has he missed that??? Thiem had the easiest forehand of the match and he somehow buried it into the net (5-6). Thiem then attempts a lob that sails long and Nadal is back level at 6-6. My word, this is ridiculous.
Oh are you joking??? Thiem gets ANOTHER net cord in his favour for 6-7 and a third match point. And this time he prevails as Nadal hits his backhand into the net. THIEM KNOCKS OUT NADAL.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-6 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Can Thiem survive the Nadal onslaught to take this to a tie-break? A couple of great serves put the Austrian 30-15 up and he gets ANOTHER jammy net cord. I don't know what the net-cord beneficiary count is in this match but it feels hugely one-sided. A powerful Nadal forehand to make it 30-40 is in vain because Thiem wins the next point to hold. Tie-break time.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-5 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
You have to wonder how much losing that previous game will take out of Thiem. It must be only natural to feel a huge drop of energy. The Austrian gets a sniff here at 30-15 and then again at 40-30, but the crowd erupt when a Thiem backhand goes long and Nadal holds to take the lead in this fourth set.
Dominic Thiem hits three unforced errors and a double fault to get broken while serving for the match.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 29, 2020
An absolute colapse.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 5-5 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
This is it. After three hours and 45 minutes, Thiem will serve for the match with new balls. A big serve down the middle allows him to push forward and smash a forehand for 15-0 but he then hits long under minimal pressure and follows up by double faulting at the worst possible time. Is the pressure getting to the Austrian? Yes it is! Now he duffs a forehand into the net and at 15-40 Nadal has two break points. Thiem produces an ace to dismiss one, but then fires wide and Nadal has the break he needed! This match is still alive.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 4-5 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Absolutely no room for error now from Nadal. First he must win his service game. Then he must break. The first of those objectives is wrapped up easily enough with a hold to 30. Now the big one as Thiem serves for the match...
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 3-5 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
This is Nadal's penultimate chance to break and he levels at 15-15 after a poor attempt at a drop shot from Thiem. The Austrian is refusing to back off though, nailing a precision forehand to edge back ahead and Nadal then slices a backhand into the net. That makes it 40-15 and Thiem successfully challenges an incorrect line call to take the game.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 3-4 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem has had soooo many lucky net cords during this match. This time a backhand looks destined to edge just wide, only for the net to flick it the right side of the line and leave Nadal for dead. And the Austrian then moves 0-30 ahead! Nadal batters his way back though: 15-30, 30-30, 40-30. And game.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 2-4 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Can Nadal break Thiem's serve? Not if the Austrian is going to continue producing shots like this one, hammering a forehand winner down the line to go 30-15 up. A big serve adds another to the tally and an ace wraps it up.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 2-3 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Nadal is looking rather glum out there and an unfortunate net cord will not help his mood one bit. Rafa then blitzes his way from 0-15 down to win the next three points, produces a third double fault of the match and then gets the better of a long rally. He's still just about hanging on in there but needs to break.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 1-3 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem MUST avoid being broken back here. Should he manage that, you have to fancy him to win this match. The Austrian moves swiftly into a 30-0 lead before some textbook hit-deep-and-powerful-before-coming-into-the-net stuff from Nadal. No worries though, Thiem holds to 15 and moves closer to a semi-final spot at the expense of the world No 1.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 1-2 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Oh hello! Thiem continues to plug away, digging, digging and turning himself inside out to use his powerful forehand. That earns him a break point at 30-40 and he takes it with Nadal miscuing totally when approaching the net! Is that the moment that sends Nadal out of the Aussie Open?
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 1-1 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Is Thiem starting to feel the heat? Not only physically, but also mentally, as he gifts Nadal a crucial point at 15-30 with a terrible decision to try a drop shot. That allows Nadal two break points, the first of which Thiem saves at the net and the second is seen off after a thunderous first serve. Another Thiem error gives Nadal advantage and a third break point, but again Thiem survives and he goes on to win the game. That was nervy.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 1-0 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
This always had the air of a long one about it before it even began. Remember, the only time these two have met on hard courts - in the quarter-finals of the 2018 US Open - Nadal won a five-set epic that lasted four hours, 49 minutes and finished at 2.03 am in New York.
On we go with Nadal serving, Thiem looking to take it to his opponent and the Spaniard winning the game to 30. Another solid game from Nadal.
Never �� Count �� The �� World �� No.1 �� Out ��@RafaelNadal breaks Dominic Thiem on his second opportunity to take the third set 6-4.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2020
Thiem leads two sets to one.#AO2020 | #AusOpenpic.twitter.com/lsQxcgfDZT
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem now serving to stay in the third set and he cedes the early advantage attempting and failing to pass Nadal with the Spaniard at the net. The attacking intent is still very much there, but Nadal advances forward again and the result is the same: 0-30. Thiem then produces his ninth ace of the match, only to hit into the net for 15-40 and set up two set points for Nadal. Nadal hits the first one long, but Thiem hits the second into the net and Nadal wins the set!
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 5-4 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem just can't quite gain a foothold on Nadal's serve. Whenever he is offered a glimmer of hope, Thiem finds himself shut out yet again by the No 1 seed. Another hold to 15 as we move ever closer towards the seemingly inevitable tie-break.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 4-4 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
You have to admire how Thiem has attacked his second serve today and he gets off the mark here with a 201km/h second serve that Nadal cannot recover from. 15-0 becomes 30-0 becomes 40-0 with ease and a sluggish Nadal then hits wide to allow Thiem to hold to love.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 4-3 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Not quite the ease of his past two service games, but Nadal's serve is on point again as he holds to 15. A similar pattern throughout this match: Nadal tends to win the short rallies and Thiem tends to win the long ones.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 3-3 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
A strange situation emerging whereby Nadal is holding his serve with ease, Thiem is being made to work hard to do likewise... and yet the Austrian still somehow looks the most likely winner. Not sure how that makes sense, but you'll just have to, erm, trust me.
Anyway, that's pretty much a perfect live blogger's curse and Thiem soon slips 15-30 down with a poor shot hit long under no pressure. No bother though. A couple of big serves make it 40-30 and he closes the game out.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 3-2 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Nadal: ace, ace, unreturned serve, ace. Haha. Not a bad way to win a game.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 2-2 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
What a backhand down the line from Thiem. There appeared to be no space to land it and yet he stuck it perfectly past Nadal for 15-15 and he then takes the lead by running round a gentle return to wallop a forehand winner. You'd think there might be a hint of nervousness from the Austrian as Nadal levels at 30-30 but not a bit of it, with Thiem producing yet another sublime winner - his 40th of the match. We remain on serve.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 2-1 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Another easy hold to 15 from Nadal. This is going to a tie-break isn't it?
This stat below shows how strong Thiem's position currently is. It's been a long time since Nadal came back from here...
Thiem is 38-1 from two sets up in his career. Only loss vs Del Potro at the US Open in 2017.— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 29, 2020
Nadal is 3-19 from two sets down in his career. Most recent win vs Youzhny at Wimbledon in 2007(!) #AusOpen
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 1-1 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
There has been no hint of any drop in Thiem's level so far today and he seems to be maintaining his intensity here. He really is producing some sublime tennis, even when stretched by Nadal, and he thunders an inch-perfect backhand for 30-0. A couple of aces then finish things off. That was easy. Wow. There is a sense of something big potentially happening here.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
That's some way to bounce back from going two sets down. A Nadal hold to 15 and barely any energy exerted.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7) Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
A second tie-break then. Thiem nails his serve for 1-0 and Nadal then fluffs such a simple backhand volley at the net for 2-0. So out of character from the top seed, who is then pinned way behind the baseline as Thiem moves 3-0 ahead. A couple of huge points there on Nadal's serve. Now Thiem will serve: serve-volley makes it 4-0, before Nadal finally gets off the mark for 4-1. Still a huge task ahead. His cause is helped by Thiem hitting a weak forehand into the net (4-2) and the Austrian is helpless against a fine Nadal serve to make it 4-3. Has the pendulum swung? Thiem, back serving again, hits a forehand long for 4-4 before edging back ahead (5-4). And he capitalises on a poor Nadal drop shot to go 6-4 up and earn two set points. Just one is required thanks to a fortunate net cord and THIEM GOES TWO SETS UP!
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 6-6 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Nadal just isn't hitting cleanly enough, consistently enough and he fails to find the required depth here, meaning he is immediately on the back foot for 0-15. Oh my word, Thiem is a man inspired. Nadal looks for all the money in the world like leveling, but the Austrian somehow produces a sublime lob when running at full pelt and reaching at full stretch: 0-30. Nadal continues to attack and it comes off for 30-30... only for Thiem to return superbly off serve to earn a set point. But Nadal saves it by opening up his body and hammering a forehand winner down the line. Deuce becomes advantage Nadal and he seals the deal. Tie-break time.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 5-6 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem has gained so much confidence purely from seeing the struggle he is inflicting on Nadal and advances forcefully to the net to go 30-0 up. Nadal then digs so deep to come out on top of one of the points of the match before urging the crowd to get involved. There is little they can do to help though, as Thiem wins the next two points with relative ease.
What a sight:
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 5-5 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Right then, Nadal must now serve to avoid going two sets down. And he follows Thiem's lead with a fifth ace of his own just when required for 30-0. But what is happening here? Nadal is being offered up the type of chances he usually gobbles up with ease, only to fail to land the ball in court. Twice. With the score at 30-30, he gains the ascendancy once again thanks to some controlled aggression before an ace steadies the ship. On we go.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 4-5 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem is purring now, sensing a chance to go in for the kill and bullying his more illustrious opponent. 30-0 is gained simply enough, 40-0 comes courtesy of a fifth ace and Nadal fires wide to end the game.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 4-4 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
An important game here. Nadal was made to work to hold his last service game and Thiem is determined to make him do so again, moving into an early lead by forcing the Spaniard onto the back foot and nailing a forehand winner down the line. That advantage is then doubled by an unreal reach from Thiem, flinging his racket at full stretch and somehow controlling the ball past Nadal, landing neatly inside the sideline. An unforced error from Nadal makes it 0-40 and gives Thiem three break points. The first is saved... but he then double faults! What a way to concede. A shocking game from Nadal.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 4-3 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Not enough first serves are landing in from Thiem - just 35 per cent so far. He is repeatedly digging himself out of a hole though and manages to hold to 30 after an uneventful game dominated by errors from both men.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 4-2 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
The last time Nadal broke, he immediately followed by conceding his service game. Can he back up the break here? Things don't get off the best of starts as Thiem wins the first point and an 18-shot rally allows the Austrian to bully his opponent, eventually forcing Nadal to hit into the net. These long rallies are favouring Thiem significantly. But now Nadal takes one of his own after a 19-shot rally - clinging on in there before finally producing the backhand cross-court winner.
At 30-30, Nadal is then giving a warning for taking too long to serve - which is something he has been fortunate to get away with all match so far - prompting the Spaniard to unleash on the umpire: "It's amazing you do it after this point. You don't like good tennis." He maintains composure though and sees out the game.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 3-2 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Nadal currently has one of those scary, serious expressions plastered across his face, which is ominous for his opponent. Thiem's serve looks like it's just starting to desert him here and a double fault is followed by two points in which he's always on the back foot. That puts Nadal 0-40 up, earning him three break points and another double fault seals the deal. A terrible game from Thiem.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 2-2 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Something suggests Nadal wasn't overly enamoured with losing that first set. As with his last service game, his serve is lethal here and he holds again to love.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 1-2 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem starts dropping things a little short, which allows Nadal to put that extra touch of oomph into his shots and earn a 0-30 lead. A 205km/h serve helps Thiem out of trouble and he gets the better of one of those in and out, back and forward points that has the crowd oohing and aahing all over the place. With that foothold, he sees off the rest of the game to keep things on serve.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 1-1 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Neither man is prepared to relinquish anything here and Nadal is keen to keep things short again. A simple hold to love in little over 60 seconds.
*Nadal 6-7 (3-7), 0-1 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem with balls in hand to kick this second set off. And he continues where he left off. Some fine serves and even better winners mean a hold to 15.
Nadal 6-7 (3-7) Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Here we go then. A delightfully cheeky drop shots puts Nadal 1-0 up and the Spaniard doubles his advantage by dictating proceedings before coming to the net and volleying for 2-0. Nadal is keen to continue that profitable tactic, but Thiem pounces on a modicum of indecision in his opponent to close to 2-2, then moves into the lead as Nadal hits low into the net for 2-3, and extends to 2-4. Nadal rides some mega bounce with a brutal forehand winner for 3-4, but misses what appears a similar - but far easier - shot to go 3-5 down. Thiem produces arguably the return of the match to whistle a forehand winner straight off serve past Nadal's face to set up three set points. AND HE ONLY NEEDS ONE! A 67-minute opening set comes to an end. First set to Thiem.
*Nadal 6-6 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
So far today...
Rallies of 0-4 shots = Nadal 28-15
Rallies of 5+ shots = Thiem 16-6
A telling stat that above. But Thiem's serve is on point right when it matters here and he holds to 15 with no need for long rallies. Which means it's tie-break time.
Nadal 6-5 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Things are starting to get tense out there as a Thiem error gives Nadal a 30-15 lead that he extends by wrong-footing his opponent with a cross-court forehand from deep behind the baseline. The Spaniard holds to 15 with relative ease.
Rafa is a joke.— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) January 29, 2020
The Dominator is a joke.
This match will be brutal.
Who’s gonna be last man standing?#AusOpen
*Nadal 5-5 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem is back on the big serves for a hasty 30-0 lead. He then sticks a mid-court volleyed backhand into the net and reasserts himself on second serve to move 40-15 up. Thiem has been so dominant on second serve today... until now, when Nadal sorts his feet out in quick time to take things to deuce. But the Austrian holds. There's a very clear pattern to this match: the shorter the point, the more Nadal wins - the longer it goes on, the more Thiem wins. Which is quite the coup for Thiem.
Nadal 5-4 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
So after an extremely tight opening set, it now looks as though Nadal is going to emerge victorious in a scoreline that suggests it was far easier than reality. Or is he? Nadal wins his first point on serve, but Thiem then crushes a 156km/h forehand winner down the line and Nadal then fails to pick up a low volley which makes it 15-30 to the Austrian, The topsy-turvy nature of the game continues, Nadal missing a set point at 40-30 before Thiem fires off a cracking backhand winner with the 16th shot of the rally to earn the advantage and a break point. After deuce one, we have deuce two (and a second break point), deuce three (and a third break point)... and Thiem emerges victorious! Back-to-back breaks.
*Nadal 5-3 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Ooh, does Nadal have a sniff here? More than a sniff perhaps as Thiem fails to ride a bit of bounce on these new balls and slips 0-30 behind. The Austrian then drops a forehand a touch short, allowing Nadal to pile into it and earn three break points. He only needs one of them, lobbing Thiem to perfection. Thiem had only lost a single point on serve before this game.
Nadal 4-3 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Nadal won't want too many of the long rallies we have already seen in this match and he decides to kill any chance of one here by serve-volleying (with success) for the first time. An ace aids the cause before he comes to the net twice more to hold to love in quick time. That's precisely the type of game he wanted. A minimum of fuss.
*Nadal 3-3 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem finally loses a point on serve and he does so on the receiving end of one of Nadal's thunderous forehands that God is yet to create a man capable of returning. The depth on the Austrian's shots is close to impeccable in general though and we advance to three games apiece.
Nadal 3-2 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem is looking full of confidence in these opening exchanges. He capitalises on Nadal dropping too short by putting a powerful forehand winner away and then repeats the trick with even more strength to move 15-30 ahead. He earns the first break point of the match with Nadal failing to get on top of a touch of bounce and only finding the net, but a big serve gets the Spaniard out of trouble. And a couple of errors from Thiem sees him concede the game. Far from easy for Nadal though.
*Nadal 2-2 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
A first sight of some net action comes courtesy of Thiem, who forces Nadal onto the back foot before advancing at pace and killing a backhand volley with aplomb. His first ace of the match takes it to 40-0 and Nadal sticks a backhand into the net. Two flawless games on serve from Thiem.
Nadal 2-1 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
We have our first lengthy rally of the match, this one lasting 25 shots before Nadal comes out on top. One suspects there might be a fair few of those in this match. My word, they then repeat the trick a couple of points later as both men work left, right, left and back again until Thiem bullets a 146km/h forehand winner down the line. That's the Austrian's only success here though. A comfortable enough hold for Nadal.
*Nadal 1-1 Thiem (*denotes next to serve)
Thiem tends to have a bigger serve than his Spanish rival. He's slightly astray here though, allowing Nadal a couple of second serves to look at, but the big man cannot find his rhythm and skews a couple wide and long as Thiem holds to love.
Nadal 1-0 Thiem* (*denotes next to serve)
The No 1 seed is first to serve and he kicks things off with an absolute peach of a forehand, placing it with consummate ease across the court, kissing the baseline and leaving Thiem for dead. Imagine starting a tennis match like that... and then following up with an ace. Yes please. A couple of long rallies are shared, Nadal then double faults for 40-30 and closes out the game with a Thiem backhand that goes wide. A decent start from both men there.
The players are out
It's almost game time.
It's almost ⏲️— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2020
The last time they stepped on @RodLaverArena, @RafaelNadal battled Nick Kyrgios in *that* amazing fourth round match while @ThiemDomi dropped just 10 games to Gael Monfils.
How do you reckon that'll impact their performance tonight?#AO2020 | #AusOpenpic.twitter.com/OcTDYOoY8t
One more spot
We already know three of the four men's quarter-finalists: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. And Nadal is a pretty strong favourite to join them.
Not a lot ever changes really does it...
How are we here?
First round: beat Hugo Dellien 6-2, 6-3, 6-0
Second round: beat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6, 6-1
Third round: beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Fourth round: beat Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6
First round: beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
Second round: beat Alex Bolt 6-2, 5-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-2
Third round: beat Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4
Fourth round: beat Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
Hello folks, it's business time as we immerse ourselves fully in the Australian Open quarter-finals and this match could be a cracker.
On one side of the net we have No 1 seed Rafael Nadal, who needs very little introduction. On the other side is Dominic Thiem, a man who excels at Roland Garros but has never made it beyond this stage at any other slam.
It is, of course, a rematch of last year's French Open final won in four sets by Nadal. But perhaps a better indicator of what to expect at Melbourne Park can be found in the only time these two have met on hard courts in 13 previous matches - in the quarter-finals of the 2018 US Open.
That match was won by Nadal in five sets, the last two of them tie-breakers. It lasted four hours, 49 minutes and finished at 2.03 am in New York. After clinching victory, Nadal jumped over the net to console Thiem and the pair embraced as those left inside Arthur Ashe Stadium gave them a standing ovation.
Asked about how he got through the latter stages of the tense match, Nadal said at the time:
Suffering is the right word. It was a great battle. I said to Dominic: 'I'm very sorry and keep going.' He has plenty of time to win. He will have his chances in the future.
Is that time now?