ATP Brisbane: Rafael Nadal squanders 3 MPs, experiences a blow

Rafael Nadal fell to Jordan Thompson after a massive battle

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Brisbane: Rafael Nadal squanders 3 MPs, experiences a blow
© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

After sailing through the opening two rounds in Brisbane, Rafael Nadal worked much harder in the quarter-final. The Spaniard squandered three match points and fell to Jordan Thompson 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 after three hours and 25 minutes!

Rafa had a chance to seal the deal in straight sets, missing three match points in the second set in the tenth game and the tie break. Thompson survived and looked like a better player in the decider, breaking Nadal in the fourth game and controlling the pace.

Rafa faced only three break points despite struggling on the second serve. However, he lacked the depth and precision he had in the previous rounds, missing a routine forehand on one of his match points. Also, the Spaniard lost the energy after such a marathon, requiring a medical timeout after the third set's fifth game.

Thompson will face Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-final, and Nadal will try to rest his body ahead of the Australian Open. Rafa served at 73% in the first set. He struggled behind the second serve, but Thompson turned that into only one break chance, converting it for the advantage.

Rafa created four break chances and seized two, enough to prevail after a massive battle. Nadal was off to a fine start, taking the encounter's first game at 15 after a service winner. Thompson repeated that in game two, getting his name on the scoreboard after Nadal's loose backhand.

The veteran produced a hold at love in game three, firing a forehand down the line winner and moving 2-1 in front. Jordan reached deuce on the return in the fifth game before Rafa closed it and moved 3-2 in front. The Aussie held in the sixth game after three deuces, not giving his opponent break opportunities.

Nadal experienced the first setback on serve in Brisbane this year in the seventh game, squandering three game points and losing serve. Thompson prolonged the action and created a break chance with a forced error.

Jordan Thompson, Brisbane 2024© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Nadal netted a backhand, losing serve and pushing his opponent 4-3 in front.

The veteran stayed focused and pulled the break back a few minutes later. Rafa landed a running forehand crosscourt winner, breaking Jordan at 15 and locking the result at 4-4. Nadal grabbed the ninth game after deuces, welcoming Thompson's forehand error and moving 5-4 ahead.

Jordan prolonged the battle with a hold at love in game ten and reached deuce for the fourth straight return game a few minutes later. Rafa stayed calm, holding after Jordan's forehand error and sending the pressure to the other side.

The Aussie cracked under it and faced three set points after a backhand slice mistake. Nadal seized the second after Thompson's backhand error, wrapping up the opener 7-5 after 70 minutes. They served well at the beginning of the second set before Nadal defended a break point at 1-1, remaining on the positive side.

Jordan sprayed a forehand error in the fourth game and offered Rafa two break points.

Rafael Nadal wasted three match points against Jordan Thompson in Brisbane.

The Aussie saved them before the Spaniard created the third after an extended rally.

Thompson attacked and denied it with a forehand down the line winner, holding and leveling the score at 2-2. Rafa left those chances behind and held at 15 in game five with a service winner. The Spaniard served well at 3-3, firing booming serves and holding at love for another advantage.

The Aussie responded with a fine service game, firing an ace and holding at love for 4-4. Nadal fired four winners in the ninth game, holding at love with brilliant net coverage and forcing Thompson to serve to stay in the match.

Rafa earned a match point in the tenth game and squandered it after missing a behind-the-back volley at the net. Jordan fired a service winner and held for 5-5 and more drama. Nadal passed Thompson with a backhand crosscourt winner at deuce in the 11th game and held after the rival's backhand mistake for 6-5.

Jordan held at 15 in game 12, introducing a tie break and prolonging his chances. Rafa fired a booming forehand down the line return winner in the second point for 2-0 and painted another forehand winner for his second mini-break.

Thompson pulled both mini-breaks back, reducing the deficit to 3-2. Nadal grabbed another mini-break in the seventh point after an extended rally and moved 5-3 up with a service winner. The Spaniard missed a smash in the ninth point, bringing the Aussie back to 4-5.

Rafa landed a volley winner for 6-4 and match points two and three, missing the second with a loose forehand. Thompson denied the third with a fine attack, locking the result at 6-6. Jordan landed a crafty volley winner at the net, moving 7-6 up and earning a set point.

The Aussie converted it with a smash winner, forcing a decider after over two and a half hours!

Rafael Nadal, Brisbane 2024© Chris Hyde / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Rafa held in the third set's second game with a service winner after deuce, leveling the score at 1-1.

Jordan grabbed the third game at 30, moving 2-1 in front and looking like a fresher player. Thompson placed a backhand return winner in the fourth game, creating a break opportunity. The Aussie seized it with a forehand drive-volley winner, moving 3-1 in front and closer to the finish line.

Jordan held at love in game five after a service winner, cementing the advantage and looking confident on the court. Nadal took a medical timeout, feeling the pain in his troubled left leg and hip. Rafa held at love in game six, remaining within one break deficit.

Thompson controlled his strokes nicely in the seventh game, producing a fine hold and moving 5-2 ahead with a service winner. Nadal served to stay in the match in game eight and produced a fine hold after a forehand winner, not giving up.

Thompson served for a win at 5-3 and landed a forehand drive-volley winner at 15-30. Rafa netted a routine forehand, offering Jordan his first match point. Rafa missed a backhand after a grueling battle, pushing his rival over the top after a thriller.

Grigor Dimitrov Rafael Nadal Jordan Thompson