Nadal's comeback was cut short in a thrilling match in Brisbane.
Nadal’s comeback was cut short in a thrilling match in Brisbane.

Rafael Nadal’s return to tennis was cut short when he lost to Australian Jordan Thompson in a battle last Friday at the Brisbane International. The match lasted 3 hours and 25 minutes.
As the match went on, Thompson saved three match points in the second set and beat Nadal 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4. It was a tough match that ended just before midnight on Pat Rafter Arena.

Nadal won the first set and got ahead 6-4 in the second set tiebreak in his first event back after being out for almost a year with an injury. It looked like he was going to win easily in straight sets.

But Thompson, who was motivated, wouldn’t give up. He used the Spaniard’s unforced mistakes to win the second set.

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return during his Brisbane International men's singles match against Jordan Thompson of Australia.
Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return during his Brisbane International men’s singles match against Jordan Thompson of Australia.

A break early in the third set meant that Nadal had to take a medical time out. He was down 1-4 and looked like he needed help with his upper left thigh.

He was able to keep going, but he couldn’t get back, and Thompson held on, much to the joy of the huge crowd.

Thompson said right afterward, “I forgot all about saving match points.”

“To beat Rafa in Brisbane in a quarter-final, and I think it is now my first semi-final on a hard court, I couldn’t be happier.”

Thompson will now play Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals after the Bulgarian beat Rinky Hijikata 6-1, 6-4. Dimitrov is the second seed.

Dane Holger Rune, who is ranked number one, plays Russian Roman Safiullin in the second semi-final.

Before the match, Rune beat Australian amateur James Duckworth 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), and Safiullin beat Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi 7-6 (7/4), 6-2. Rune looked very good.

Nadal was in great shape going into his quarterfinal match against Thompson. He had won his first two matches with ease.

But Thompson, ranked 55th in the world, made sure the Spanish player wouldn’t have it all his own way by returning Nadal’s serve well the whole time.

Nadal broke Thompson twice to win the first set in 70 minutes, even though he lost his serve for the first time this event at 3-3 in the first set.

Thompson played great tennis in the second set and threw everything at Nadal, but the Spanish player was able to handle it.

During the tiebreak, Nadal played like he did in the past, taking a 3-0 lead.

He tied the match at 3-3, though, and then saved two match points when he was down 6-4 to win the set in 83 minutes.

At the start of the third set, Nadal looked tired while the Australian didn’t. It wasn’t a surprise when he was broken early in the third set, with Thompson hanging on easily.

In the women’s draw, Aryna Sabalenka sent a message before her defence at the Australian Open by beating Daria Kasatkina in straight sets and advancing to the semi-finals.

Sabalenka won 6-1, 6-4, making it her 14th straight win in Australia. She also won the Adelaide title before the first Grand Slam of the year last year.

The Belarusian beat the Russian in 32 minutes in the first set, but she had to work harder in the second. She broke Kasatkina once and held on to win the match in 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Sabalenka will now play Victoria Azarenka, who is also from Belarus. If Sabalenka wins, she could play second seed Elena Rybakina again in the 2023 Australian Open final.

Both Azarenka and Rybakina, who are former Grand Slam winners, made it to the semifinals in different ways.

Azarenka, who has won the Australian Open twice, beat third-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the first match on Pat Rafter Arena. It took her 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Rybakina then made it to the last four when her Russian opponent, Anastasia Potapova, pulled out because of stomach problems after losing the first set 6-1.

After beating 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 7-5, 6-3, Linda Noskova will play Rybakina next.

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