Buenos Aires: Defending champion Rafael Nadal suffered another setback on Saturday when he squandered a match point before losing 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) to Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the Argentina Open semi-finals.
Rafael Nadal reacts after losing a point to Austria’s Dominic Thiem during the Argentina Open semis in Buenos Aires on Saturday
Top seed Nadal, playing on his favourite clay surface, finally wilted in the 32-degree heat in Buenos Aires after two hours and 50 minutes on court against Thiem, the world number 19, who goes on to face Nicolas Almagro in Sunday’s final. "It was a tough match.
I had a chance to win and missed it but Thiem played well," said Nadal, whose claycourt title total remains on 47. "I’m not worried. I just lacked consistency and need to make fewer unforced errors, but that’s nothing." Nadal now heads for Rio next week where he will again be top seed and where he was champion in 2014.
He is expecting similarly gruelling conditions in the Olympic host city. "I struggled a bit to adapt to the extreme conditions here. I felt more tired than usual.
I know that in Rio de Janeiro it’s not going to be better, so I must continue to adapt." Nadal dropped serve in the ninth game of the opener to allow 22-year-old Thiem to serve out for a one-set lead.
Nadal fought off a break point in the seventh game of the second as the big-hitting Thiem, the youngest member of the world top 20, threatened to run away with the contest.
But the 14-time major winner made it one set all. Thiem then nipped ahead for 2-0 in the decider, but Nadal levelled at 2-2 before Thiem saved a match point in the 10th game. In the tie-break, however, it was Thiem proved the stronger of the two.
"Bamos defeated Vamos! I cannot believe it! To beat such a player is insane, I will never forget that moment in my life," wrote Thiem on his Facebook page. Thiem will meet Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who beat No 2 seed compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in the other semi-final yesterday.