Rafael Nadal's Australian Open campaign has been brought to a screeching halt in the quarter-finals at the hands of Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

Thiem had never beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam, but turned it around on Wednesday night at Rod Laver Arena as he recorded a 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 victory to knock out the World No 1.

In what was arguably the match of the tournament, the two men traded heavy shots throughout the entirety of the four-hour war, and Nadal was left seeing red on multiple occasions throughout the contest.

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In the opening set Nadal voiced his frustration with the chair umpire after being rushed through in between games and not having enough time on his chair to cool down in the warm conditions.

Air conditioner units have been attached to the players' benches to help ease the warmth, but Nadal wasn't happy with his not cooling him down enough.

"I am under a lot of pressure," Nadal could be heard saying.

"It is like I am in the shower, I can't get there that easily."

Rafael Nadal argues with the chair umpire during his loss to Dominic Thiem. Photo / Getty
Rafael Nadal argues with the chair umpire during his loss to Dominic Thiem. Photo / Getty

But it was in the second set when the Spaniard was his angriest, after being hit with a time violation after the service clock wound all the way down to zero before he had begun his service motion.

"It's really amazing that after this point you are able to put the [inaudible] straight," Nadal said.

"You don't like the good tennis, you don't like the good tennis."

Jim Courier in the commentary box agreed with Nadal's argument.


"The chair umpire is the one who decides when that shock clock starts. It is when she calls the score. What Nadal is saying is 'you should recognise how much exertion we put into these two points and give us some leeway' and he's right," Courier said.

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Nadal then had words with a Grand Slam official to voice his displeasure with the chair umpire starting the service clock too quickly after a long and gruelling rally.

In the fourth set the frustration hit again, after Nadal inspected a Thiem serve before attempting to challenge the call only for the umpire to reject his request. The umpire wasn't having it telling him the challenge was "too late".

Courier wasn't happy with the ruling, stating Nadal was well within his rights to go and inspect the point before making his decision whether to challenge or not.

"Surely he's allowed to go look at the mark. That's ridiculous. He walked straight there to go look at it," Courier said.

"The reason it is often disallowed is if the player looks and gets encouragement from someone in their box that, hey, that was out, you should challenge it. They want the players to be the one that decide it. Rafa didn't look at anyone.

"He went straight to the mark and saw a mark that he thought was out. But it was the wrong mark. We have been doing this ever since clay courts existed. We have been looking and checking marks and chair umpires get down from chairs and do it.

"If a point's over, you have as much time as you want to go look at the mark, circle it and ask the chair umpire to come down and make a ruling. It should be no different here."

Nadal's frustrations weren't aided by some untimely errors as the match went back and forth in the fourth set. In the end, it was third time lucky for Thiem in the fourth set tiebreak. Nadal saved the first two match points, but on the third he sent his forehand into the net, and handed the victory to the Austrian.

Dominic Thiem celebrates his win. Photo / Getty
Dominic Thiem celebrates his win. Photo / Getty

The win puts Thiem into the semifinals where he'll meet German seventh seed Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day.

"Sascha [Zverev] and I are playing in our first [hard court Grand Slam] semifinal while they [Djokovic/Federer] are playing in their 15th, a little bit of a difference," Thiem said after the match.

"I'm feeling good so far, I'm full of adrenaline. We'll see how I feel tomorrow."