After 4 hours and 10 minutes, Dominic Thiem knocked out world number one Rafael Nadal on Wednesday (January 29) to advance to his first Australian Open semi-finals.
The Australian fifth seed was all smiles after beating the Spaniard 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) in the quarter-finals game at Rod Laver Arena.
With Nadal being ruled out of the season’s first Major, Thiem is all set to face German young gun Alexander Zverev who cruised into the semis after defeating veteran Stan Wawrinka.
While contributing to Nadal’s past-Melbourne scares, Thiem said, “I just wanted to stay in the match. It was a special situation for me, serving for the match against Rafa. It’s such a mentally tough situation – I couldn’t handle it! But I turned it around in the tie-breaker.”
“It’s a little bit ‘demons in the head’, as Roger has said. I was just rushing too much, changing my tactics. You have to deal with these situations almost every single game,” he added.
The top seed, who was chasing a dream of equalling Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, went down to Thiem whom he defeated in the last two French Open finals.
Thiem expressed that luck was in his favour during the game as he beat one of the greatest players of the sport.
“Today I was really feeling I was lucky in the right situations. The net cord was really on my side. He’s one of the biggest legends this sport’s ever had so you need some luck to beat him,” he said.
Speaking to the media, Nadal said, “I don’t give up one moment during the match. I gave myself an opportunity until the last moment, so I’m happy for that because my level of concentration and tennis was better I think. My tennis was not bad at all – it was difficult to play against him. I’m happy … [I could have had] a little bit more determination in some moments, true.”
The quarter-finals which were full of surprises also witnessed seventh seed Zverev ruling out Wawrinka to enter his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The German stunned the 2014 champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 by firing 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent.
The winner of this next-gen clash will battle it out with one of the tennis biggies Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer for the title who will play each other on Thursday (January 30).