Tennis

Nadal crashes out in thriller against Thiem in Australia

The Spaniard succumbed 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-6 (8-6) to the fifth seed Wednesday to become the first member of the "big three" to slip up in Melbourne after Federer and Novak Djokovic set up a meeting in the final four Tuesday. Thiem, appearing in his first Australian Open quarterfinal, edged the brutal encounter with a powerful array of groundstrokes on Rod Laver Arena.The 26-year-old will meet Alexander Zverev in the semifinal, a youthful match up compared with that of Swiss great Federer and Djokovic, who have a combined 13 Australian Open titles between them.Thiem was serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set, only for Nadal to break back. It went to a tie break where, after squandering two match points, the Austrian finally triumphed."It came to 5-4 and it was a special situation for me, serving for the match against Rafa for my first semifinals here at the Australian Open," said Thiem. "[It was] such a mentally tough situation. I couldn't handle it but I turned it around again in the tie breaker."The fifth seed, who is chasing a first grand slam title, added: "It's a little bit demons in the head. "Everybody has it, and I was just rushing way too much, changing a little bit the tactics from all the match, and that was wrong."Nadal went a break up in the first two sets but wasn't able to capitalize on either as Thiem broke back on both occasions to force a tie break, which he won both times. The match could have swung either way, with both players having won 102 points apiece after Nadal had claimed the third set. But Thiem held his nerve to secure his first hardcourt victory over the Spaniard after losing to him in the last two French Open finals. "I don't give up one moment during the match," Nadal told a news conference. "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." Nadal must now wait until the French Open, which begins on May 24 in Paris, to try to match Federer's men's record of 20 grand slam titles. Nadal has won an unprecedented 12 titles at Roland Garros. Nadal won his sole Australian Open title 11 years ago.

Zverev's bushfire pledge

Zverev reached his first grand slam semifinal with a 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Stan Wawrinka.The 22-year-old has been beaten twice in the quarterfinals and three times in the fourth round at majors, but bounced back from a disappointing opening set on Wednesday to finally make that last four breakthrough.He also becomes the first German in 10 years to reach a grand slam semifinal."I've done well in other tournaments, I've won Masters, I've won World Tour Finals, but I never could break that barrier at a grand slam," said Zverev. "I'm happy to be in the semifinals. Stan played a great match, a great tournament beating Daniil Medvedev last match in five sets."I honestly don't know what to say … you guys (the crowd) cannot imagine what this means to me and I hope this will be the first of many."After the match, Zverev doubled down on his pledge to donate all the $2.7 million (4.1 million AUD) prize money to Australia's bushfire relief fund if he wins the tournament. READ: Roger Federer saves seven match points to reach Australian Open semifinalsZverev celebrates his victory over Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka.

Zverev serve

Wawrinka, an Australian Open champion in 2014, broke Zverev twice in the first set to race into an early 5-0 lead before taking the first set off the No. 7 seed.The German rallied to take the second set, where he didn't drop a point on serve.Both players broke each other at the start of the third, but a Zverev break at 2-2 shifted the game's momentum. He closed out the fourth set after two early breaks, ending the match with an 80% success rate on his first serve and 13 aces. READ: John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova join forces at Australian Open to hold on-court protest

Halep eases through

Meanwhile Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza will meet in the semifinals of the women's draw after respective victorieRead More – Source

cnn