No. 1 Nadal upset by Thiem in Australian Open quarterfinals


Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open.

Cameron Spencer

Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open.

Outplayed at his own brand of physical tennis for much of the match, Rafael Nadal finally claimed a set to try to start a comeback against Dominic Thiem.

Nadal marked the moment by hopping in a crouch at the baseline and vigorously pumping his right arm four times.

Dominic Thiem has knocked out Rafael Nadal.

Cameron Spencer

Dominic Thiem has knocked out Rafael Nadal.

Soon, though, he was back in trouble. And eventually, his bid to tie Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles by winning the Australian Open was over with a quarterfinal loss Wednesday to Thiem _ a younger version of Nadal himself.

Thiem’s 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (6) victory over the top-seeded Nadal lasted 4 hours, 10 minutes because of so many lengthy, electrifying points and put him in his fifth major semifinal.

READ MORE:
* Rafael Nadal gets stopped by security at Australian Open
* Australian Open: Roger Federer fights back to stun Tennys Sandgren in five-set thriller
* Australian tennis fans have four million reasons to get behind Alexander Zverev
* Rafael Nadal clinches 12th French Open title with gritty win over Dominic Thiem

It is his first somewhere other than at the French Open, the place that is Nadal’s domain.

Of more significance: The outcome ended Nadal’s career-best streak of making at least the semifinals at seven consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, a span during which he earned three trophies to narrow his gap with Federer.

Rafael Nadal went two sets down at the start of his Mens Singles Quarterfinal.

Hannah Peters

Rafael Nadal went two sets down at the start of his Mens Singles Quarterfinal.

The last time Nadal didn’t get to the final four at a major? Also at the Australian Open, where he also went out in the quarterfinals two years ago before finishing as the runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2019.

That was Nadal’s fourth defeat in a final at Melbourne Park since he won his lone title at the place in 2009. He’s won two at Wimbledon, four at the US Open and 12 at the French Open.

Thiem had been 0-5 against Nadal at the majors, including losses in the final at Roland Garros each of the past two years.

Austria's Dominic Thiem makes a forehand return.

Dita Alangkara

Austria’s Dominic Thiem makes a forehand return.

But this one was different. The defining statistic: Thiem won exactly twice as many points that featured nine or more shots, 24-12.

Thiem managed to hang in there with Nadal on physical baseline exchanges, trading groundstroke for groundstroke and picking the proper spots to move forward.

Or to describe it another way: Thiem was out-Nadal-ing Nadal, the ultimate grinder who never met a point that was too long or too gruelling.

The outcome ended Nadal's career-best streak of making at least the semifinals at seven consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.

Andy Wong

The outcome ended Nadal’s career-best streak of making at least the semifinals at seven consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.

Now Thiem will play No. 7 Alexander Zverev on Friday for a berth in the title match.

Zverev reached his first major semifinal anywhere by overcoming a terrible start Wednesday and putting together a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.