On January 5, 2024, Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal’s comeback was halted in an epic quarter-final match against Australian Jordan Thompson at the Brisbane International. After being away from the sport for almost a year due to injury, Nadal showed promise with wins in his first two matches. However, Thompson proved to be a formidable opponent, saving three match points in the second set before defeating Nadal 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in a grueling match that lasted 3 hours and 25 minutes. Despite claiming the first set and leading 6-4 in the second set tiebreak, Nadal’s fatigue became apparent as Thompson fought back to secure the victory. Thompson expressed his excitement at defeating Nadal and reaching his first semi-final on a hard court.
Nadal entered the quarter-final in great form, having easily won his previous two rounds. Although he lost his serve for the first time in the tournament, Nadal managed to break Thompson twice and win a tight first set after 70 minutes. Thompson put pressure on Nadal in the second set and displayed impressive tennis skills. Nadal appeared to be in vintage form as he took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, but Thompson rallied, saving two match points and ultimately winning the set after 83 minutes. Thompson will now face second seed Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals, while the other semi-final match will feature top seeded Dane Holger Rune against Russian Roman Safiullin.
In the women’s event, Aryna Sabalenka continued her dominance on Australian soil with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over a Russian opponent. This win marked her 14th consecutive win in Australia, as she previously won the Adelaide crown. Sabalenka’s next match will be against fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, potentially setting up a rematch of the 2023 Australian Open final against second seed Elena Rybakina. Azarenka and Rybakina both reached the semi-finals, with Rybakina receiving a spot in the last four after her Russian opponent withdrew due to a stomach issue. Rybakina will face Linda Noskova in the semi-finals.