Melbourne, Jan 29 (IANS) Twenty six-year-old Dominic Thiem on Wednesday reached his first Australian Open semi-final after beating world no.1 and 19-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. He will now face German world no. 7 Alexander Zverev in the semi-final, who had beaten Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day.
In women’s singles, world no.4 Simona Halep advanced to the semi-final after beating Estonia’s Annett Kontaveit in straight sets. She faces former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the semis who beat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets.
Continuing the red hot form that had seen him beat Gael Monfils in straight sets, Thiem raced to a two-set lead in the match. In both cases, Nadal took the sets to the tie-breaker but managed to win just three and four points.
However, the Spanish great took the third game and the fourth went into another tie-breaker. In a dramatic end to the match, Nadal saved two match points before Thiem finally got over the line. The final score read 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) in the Austrian’s favour. Nadal had beaten Thiem in all five of their previous meetings in Grand Slams and the latter is the second Austrian to reach the semi-final at the Australian Open.
Zverev started slowly and struggled to find the range on his shots. The German missed a half-volley to lose his opening service game, then shanked a forehand into the stands two games later to trail by a double break.
He however recovered from eventually losing the first set and continued to grow in confidence with each game as he sprinted to the finish line. The match came full circle as it was Zverev who charged to a 4-0 lead in the final set and closed out the match on his first attempt after two hours and 19 minutes. He finished the day with 34 winners to 28 unforced errors. The final score read 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in his favour.