6 stats breaking down Rafael Nadal's stunning Aussie Open upset loss to Dominic Thiem



Rafael Nadal’s quest to tie Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam victories was put on hold after the world No. 1 lost to No. 5 Dominic Thiem, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (6), in the Australian Open quarterfinals Wednesday in Melbourne.

While 33-year-old Nadal is out, the 26-year-old winner from Austria advanced to the semifinals, where he’ll face No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany. It’s Thiem’s first Aussie Open semifinals appearance and the first time he’s among the final four players at a Grand Slam outside of the French Open.

The winner of the Thiem-Zverev match will take on the winner of the Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic semi — they’re No. 3 and 2, respectively — which is Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

Nadal and Thiem’s four-set match lasted four hours and 10 minutes, in part, because they played three tiebreakers, all of which the 33-year-old Spaniard lost. There’s so much to takeaway from Nadal and Thiem’s quarterfinal match, so here are six ridiculous stats to break it down.

1. Nadal’s streak is over

Going into the Australian open, Nadal had advanced to at least the semifinals in seven straight Grand Slam tournaments. He won three titles in that span: The 2019 U.S. Open and the 2019 and 2018 French Open — where he beat Thiem in back-to-back finals at Roland Garros.

The last time Nadal didn’t make it to the semifinals of a Grand Slam was in the 2018 Australian Open, when he lost to Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. And of his incredible 19 Grand Slam victories, he’s actually only won the Australian Open once (2009).

2. Losing three tiebreakers

The first, second and fourth sets of Nadal’s loss to Thiem went to tiebreakers, and with Nadal losing all of them, it was the first time in his career that he lost three tiebreakers in a single match.

3. Thiem won the long rallies

As the Associated Press noted, Thiem won twice as many points against Nadal off rallies nine shots or longer at 24-12. Going the distance isn’t typically a problem for Nadal, but he was simply out-played.

4. Thiem is on a roll against tennis’ Big Three

In the last 12 months, Thiem is 7-2 against the biggest stars in men’s tennis: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Nadal.

His win Wednesday bumped him up to 2-1 against Nadal after he also won their match at the Barcelona Open in April on his way to winning the whole tournament. His lone loss to Nadal in the last year was the French Open last season.

Thiem is 2-1 against Djovokic in the last 12 months, which includes beating him in the French Open semifinals, and is 3-0 against Federer — though none of their matches were at Grand Slam tournaments.

5. Young guys are moving up

While this stat says more about the dominance of the older generation of men’s tennis, get ready to feel old.

As NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi noted, this is the first time the Australian Open will have a men’s finalist born in the 1990s. At 26, Thiem was born in 1993, and Zverev is 22 and was born in 1997.

6. Speaking of age differences…

There are quite a few huge differences between the two men’s semifinals, and age is clearly one of them. With Thiem (26) and Zverev (22), their average age is 24 years old. On the other side, Federer is 38 and Djokovic 32, making their average age 35.

Another way to look at it: Thiem and Zverev’s combined ages are 48, while Federer and Djokovic are at a whopping 70.

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