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Sports

AFP
January 29, 2020

History-chasing Nadal faces Thiem in Melbourne

Sports

AFP
Wed, Jan 29, 2020

MELBOURNE: World number one Rafael Nadal takes on Dominic Thiem on Wednesday as he looks for a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Nadal has never lost to Thiem at Major tournaments, beating him in the last two French Open finals, but he´s taking nothing for granted against the Austrian fifth seed.

"We know each other well. He´s a player that I like a lot, the way that he works, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always," Nadal said.

"It is a match that´s going to be a tough one, but will be interesting. I know I have to be at my best to have chances."

Nadal and Thiem are playing for a semi-final against Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka, who won the Australian title in 2014 -- the only player outside the Big Three to do so since 2006.

Now ranked 15, the three-time Grand Slam winner said he´s playing his best tennis since knee surgery in 2017, with the passion to win another big event still burning bright at 34.

"I´ve been feeling great on the court, on the practice court, putting a lot of work in physically and tennis-wise," said Wawrinka, who will have to overturn a 0-2 record against seventh seed Zverev.

"Zverev, he´s been in the top 10, top five since few years now. It´s going to be a difficult match, for sure."

Elsewhere, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep takes aim at the semi-finals when she plays Estonia´s Anett Kontaveit, while resurgent Spaniard Garbine Muguruza faces 30th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

"I´m not thinking negative. I just want to go there and to give my best," said Halep. "This is all I have in my mind."