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By Chris Oddo | Saturday February 13, 2016

 

Dominic Thiem dio el golpe. El austríaco venció a Rafael Nadal por 6-4/4-6/7-6 y está en la final del #ArgentinaOpen.

Posted by ATP Buenos Aires (Perfil Oficial) on Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rafael Nadal’s Argentina Open title defense went down the drain on Saturday as the Spaniard failed to convert a match point and fell to 22-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4).

More: Klizan Rows His Boat Merrily into Rotterdam Final

Nadal, who was bidding to become the sixth player in the Open Era to reach 100 ATP finals, had moments of brilliance sparkled with moments of inconsistency and the usual troubles on serve that have plagued him over the last year.

Broken three times on eight opportunities, Nadal dropped serve twice in the opener, including pivotally in the ninth game when the 29-year-old defending champ went for a big backhand down the line and missed it just wide.

There were many similar moments in this match for Nadal, who hit some amazing balls from both wings, but couldn't find the energy or confidence to do it consistently.

Thiem, who entered the match having lost eight straight vs. the Top-10 would hold to close the first set, but Nadal would seize momentum in the second set when he saved a break point then deployed drop shots effectively on back-to-back points to hold for 4-3.

Nadal broke critically in the tenth game, sealing the set and forcing a decider when a Thiem forehand drifted long.

Thiem took the early 2-0 lead in set three but Nadal bounced back to level at 2-all. From there it was a knock down, drag out affair as the pair engaged in many a spirited rally, tinged with the odd moment of hesitance.

Nadal seemed to have worked his way into the driver’s set but when Thiem let go with a massive forehand to save match point and hold for 5-all, all bets were off.

They marched to a third-set tiebreaker and a cluster of ill-timed errors (double-fault on first point, forehand miss on fifth point, netted dropper on sixth point) gave Thiem a 5-1 lead at the changeover.

The Austrian won the next point to give himself a healthy cushion, then floundered for three points, before finally closing his victory when he forced a Nadal backhand long.


Thiem will face either David Ferrer or Nicolas Almagro in the final on Sunday. The Austrian levels his career head-to-head with Nadal to 1-1 with his victory. Thiem owns a 3-1 record in ATP finals; all five have taken place on clay.

 

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