| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

 

For the first time, Austria’s Dominic Thiem has defeated Rafael Nadal at a Grand Slam. The fifth-seed Thiem defeated the top-seeded Nadal 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(6) to advance to his first Australian Open semifinal.

“All the match was on a very good level, we both were in great form, that’s what can happen with two players in that form,” said Thiem. “I felt I was lucky in the right situations. It’s necessary as he’s one of the greatest of all-time, one of the biggest legends in this sport, so you need a little luck to beat him.”

Thiem was more than just lucky on Wednesday. The Austrian blasted 65 winners and walked out on court on a mission. The win moves Thiem to 4-19 all-time against Nadal, and beats him for the first time in six tries at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. 

Nadal would not go quietly. After Thiem edged out the first two tiebreakers, Nadal broke late in the third set to take the set and force the match into a fourth set. But as the set headed into a tiebreaker, Thiem eliminated any idea of an epic comeback, racing ahead 6-2 and even after Nadal closed the gap, Thiem wrapped up the match with a backhand passing shot.

“Of course, I am sad. I lost an opportunity to be in the semifinals of another Grand Slam,” said Nadal. “But I lost against a great opponent. And he deserves it, too. Well done for him.”

Standing in the way of Thiem and the Australian Open final is a first-time major semifinalist in Alexander Zverev who came back from a set down to defeat former champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. 

“Feels awesome...I’ve done well in other tournaments, in World Tour Finals, won Masters, but could never make that breakthrough at a Grand Slam,” said Zverev. “You cannot imagine what this means to me, I hope this will be the first of many. I did win the World Tour Finals. If I get to the finals this will be the greatest day of my life, but I like titles.”

The battle of the first-time Australian Open semifinals will be an intriguing one. Thiem leads the all-time head-to-head 6-2.