Dominic Thiem is congratulated by Rafael Nadal after winning their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Wednesday. AFP
The fifth seed, beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals, battled past the Spaniard 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (8/6) to deny him a crack at a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam title.
He will now meet German seventh seed Zverev who shattered the dreams of veteran Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to book a maiden place in a Grand Slam last four.
Awaiting the winner of that clash will be either seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or six-time winner Roger Federer, who meet in the other semi-final.
"All the match was on a very good level, I think we are both in great form," said Thiem, only the second Austrian to make the Melbourne semis after Thomas Muster — the man he sacked this week as an adviser.
"Today I had the feeling I was lucky in the right situation ... it is necessary because he is one of the greatest of all time. You need some luck to beat him."
Top seed Nadal had a 9-4 record over Thiem and had beaten him in all their five previous Slam meetings.
But the last time they played on hardcourts — at the 2018 US Open quarter-finals — it was a five-set marathon.
And the signs pointed that way again, with the opening set on serve to 2-2 before Thiem, gunning for a first Grand Slam title, worked a break point but couldn't convert.
Both baseline-huggers, it became a slugfest before Nadal managed to open some doors on the Thiem serve in game eight and he broke with a perfect lob from the back of the court.
But Thiem came roaring back, breaking back with a ripping crosscourt return. He saved a set point to take it to a tie-breaker where he stunned Nadal to seal a one set lead.
Nadal, dripping in sweat on a steamy Melbourne night, attacked in the second set and Thiem lost his serve to love to go 3-2 behind.
But the Spaniard, the 2009 champion, became riled when issued with a warning for taking too long to serve and it rattled him, sending down a double fault as Thiem squared the set at 4-4.
Nadal saved a set point and it went to another tie-break where Thiem prevailed at the crunch thanks to a lucky net cord.
The third set was similarly tight, with no breaks until Nadal teased some errors from Thiem as he served to stay in the set, pumping his fists in celebration.
But when Nadal shanked a forehand in the third game of set four to be broken the momentum swung back to the Austrian. He lost his nerve serving for the match at 5-4 before finally getting over the line in a tie-break for a famous victory.
He now faces Zverev, who bounced back after being demolished in the first set by 2014 champion Wawrinka to take control and run out a comfortable winner.
Long touted as one of the next generation capable of breaking through to end the Grand Slam dominance of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, Zverev credited a more relaxed approach for his success in Melbourne.
"I'm doing much more things outside the court," he said, adding that after a poor performance at the recent ATP Cup he did not have high expectations.
"Maybe this is a stepping stone. Maybe this is how it should happen."
World ranked 139 Tauson saw off Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 to guarantee a top 100 debut on Monday. Tauson was playing in just her third main draw and with Sunday's win confirmed her status as one of the sport's in-form players.
Melbourne: Britain’s Cameron Norrie will be exploring every avenue in preparation for his Australian Open third-round clash against World No. 2 Rafael Nadal – and countryman Andy Murray might be getting a phone call as a result.
Djokovic, the world number one, had raised the alarm over an abdominal injury after his five-set battle with Taylor Fritz, but he showed few outward signs in his 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win.
Defending champion Grandmaster (GM) Aravindh Chithambaram of India and GM Sanal Vahap of Turkey zoomed to the top of the leaderboard as the only two players with perfect scores after three rounds of action at the 23rd Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. Chithambaram defeated
Chennai Super Kings were handed a revised target of 171 in 15 overs against holders Gujarat Titans in the IPL final on Monday after a long delay due to rain.
Vugar Asadli caused the biggest stir so far in the 23rd edition of the Dubai Open Chess Tournament when the Grandmaster (GM) from Azerbaijan defeated second-seed GM Hans Moke Niemann of the US in Sunday night’s second round at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. Asadli joins 11 others, including former Dubai Open
A sensational quickfire fifty from Sai Sudharsan (96 off 41) along with Wriddhiman Saha's vital half-century (54 off 39) powered Gujarat Titans to 214/4 against Chennai Super Kings in the rescheduled final of IPL.