For a man chasing an equalling record of 20 Grand Slam titles to tie with Roger Federer it isn’t often that you use the phrase missed opportunity but that was what it was for Rafael Nadal against Dominic Thiem.
On five previous occasions, Thiem had never beaten Rafa at a Grand Slam.
Two sets down you started to think this was a big missed opportunity for Nadal.
In both the opening two sets he had a break of serve lead. 5-4 in the first and 4-2 in the second. The world number one went onto lose both sets on the tie-break.
The second set in particular seemed to rile Nadal. His was annoyed with a time violation after a long rally but he had been pushing it and it just bothered him badly. On serve he didn’t get a single first serve in play and double faulted on break point.
He had a word with the referee court side mid-game at one point and the frustration stayed with him as he dropped the second set.
Two sets down but don’t rule him out!
The last time Nadal had come from two sets down to win in a Grand Slam was against Mikhail Youzhny in 2007 at Wimbledon.
The issue is with Dominic Thiem there can sometimes be a dip and a loss of concentration and we got that!
The first nine games of the third set were pretty straight forward for both players on serve. Nadal began to get more serves into play and with Thiem serving at 4-5 a backhand into the net from the Austrian took proceedings to a fourth set.
Thiem looked like he was about to offer it on a plate for Rafa with three immediate break points in the fourth set but he managed to keep his hold of serve to annoyance of Nadal who wanted to challenge a serve but was called late by the umpire.
After a bit of a holiday from the inside-out from Dominic Thiem thankfully for the Austrian it returned to set up his own break point and a shanked forehand from Nadal gave Thiem a break of serve!
Service holds were the theme after and Nadal’s time in Melbourne was hanging by a thread going down 0-30 on serve but managed to keep it to one break and at 3-5 would serve to stay in the match.
The service game was held and now the pressure was on Dominic Thiem to serve for one of his biggest wins but down 15-30…
The inside-out forehand had come back to life after a dip in set three but the tension in the shot gifted two break point chances for Nadal.
He saved one but once again went down the T and then the inside-out forehand went wide!
A wobble from Thiem took proceedings a third tie-break of the match. The first two had gone to Thiem!
At the first change despite the opening three points going against the server a beautiful weighted slice down the line the Austrian a 4-2 lead.
A tumble from Thiem but still he remained involved and another wide shot from Nadal pushed Thiem closer to the finish line.
It would come down to the racket of Dominic Thiem. Two points on serve…
A big serve set up two match points after four hours and six minutes.
Forehand into the net, one gone!
Back on Nadal’s serve!
Lobbed called in, Nadal left it! Challenged, it’s out!
Another net cord flicked the ball past Nadal and another match point on Thiem’s serve!
A forehand into the net!
Dominic Thiem does it with midnight approaching!
7-6 7-6 4-6 7-6!