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Rafael Nadal praises Jordan Thompson

Jordan Thompson plays a backhand. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
5th November, 2020
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The Australian singles challenge at the Paris Masters is over after Rafael Nadal tamed Jordan Thompson’s resistance and Daniil Medvedev beat Alex de Minaur.

Australian Jordan Thompson earned a battling set point only to experience the dispiriting fate that countless victims had suffered before him when he was defeated 6-1 7-6 (7-3) by Rafael Nadal in the last-16 of the Paris Masters.

It spelt the end of the Australian singles challenge at the major end-of-season Masters event after Alex de Minaur had been defeated 5-7 6-2 6-2 by another big gun, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal, fresh from his 1000th ATP Tour win on Wednesday, quickly went on the hunt for victory number 1001 as Thompson, who had never played the Spanish maestro before, was swept aside in a 32-minute opening set.

Yet the 26-year-old Thompson showed fight at the end of the stanza when he saved three set points and that served him well in the second set too as games went with serve until he eked out a surprise set point on Nadal’s delivery at 6-5 up.

The moment of mini-crisis only brought out the best in the world No.2 who saved the set point by winning a gruelling 26-shot rally which saw his final forehand just clip the baseline and force an error from Thompson.

After that escape, Nadal roared through the tiebreak to seal the win, with Thompson dumping his last forehand into the net after one hour and 33 minutes. 

The world No.61 from Sydney certainly gave a good account of himself, attacking wherever possible but he did not have the firepower to really unnerve Nadal, who will next play compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

“I think he increased a lot his level in the second set. He played well, so I give credit to him,” Nadal said of Thompson’s fightback.

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“I only faced one break point with my serve during the whole match, but it was a set point, and a tough one. That’s a positive thing with my serve. I found a way.”

There could be further landmarks for Nadal, who has reached the quarter-finals in all of his eight appearances in Paris and will tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters 1000 titles if he emerges victorious at the weekend.

Australian No.1 De Minaur, a finalist at the Antwerp Open in his last tournament, had got off to the ideal start against world No.5 Medvedev by earning two breaks to take a tough opening set in three-quarters of an hour.

Yet it only prompted the third-seeded Russian to move into another gear as he broke the 21-year-old’s serve four times over the next two sets while not even offering up a breakpoint opportunity.

The 2019 US Open runner-up, who had lost to Nadal in that final, served out to love to seal his victory in one hour 52 minutes and set up a quarter-final date with Diego Schwartzman, who earlier took just an hour to beat Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1 6-1.

Canada’s Milos Raonic is also through to the last eight by beating US qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 and will go on to face the in-form Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

The man who beat De Minaur in the Antwerp final followed up his elimination of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the previous round with a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 success over Croatian Marin Cilic.

© AAP