- Boilover happened at Brisbane International
- Nadal is on the comeback trail after a year out
- Fans have slammed the champion for disrespecting the Aussie
- He referred to Jordan Thompson as ‘the opponent’
Spanish champion Rafael Nadal has been accused of disrespect after refusing to say his opponent’s name after being beaten by Aussie Jordan Thompson on Friday night.
Thompson saved three match points before turning the tables to beat the returning Rafael Nadal in a late-night Brisbane International quarter-final classic.
The Australian prevailed 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in a Friday night battle that stretched three hours and 25 minutes and finished just shy of midnight.
Nadal, 37, has sat out a year of tennis and is hoping for another surge at the Australian Open where he won against all odds in 2022.
He was humble in defeat, saying he had his opportunities but had to accept there would be stumbles along the comeback trail.
‘I need to accept all this kind of stuff after a year, you know,’ he said.
‘That’s normal, that things happen.
‘Every day is a different story and things are difficult after such a long time.’
It was what Nadal said next, though, that had Aussie fans furious.
The win over Nadal was the biggest of Thompson’s career and has propelled him into the semi-finals of the Brisbane International
Nadal was happy to talk about himself, but only referred to Thompson as ‘the opponent’ during his post-match media conference
While Nadal might not know his opposition well, Aussies would be familiar with Thompson after he dated The Bachelor’s Brittany Hockley
‘Today the opponent played well,’ he said.
‘Made me play one more ball. I didn’t play bad, but I was just one ball away.’
Irate fans took to social media to slam Nadal for either forgetting or ignoring Thompson’s name during his media conference.
‘Your ‘opponent’ Nadal was Jordan Thompson in case u forgot his name,’ one fan posted.
‘The opponent?! That’s low,’ added another.
‘Does he know Jordan Thompson’s name? It seems clear he doesn’t. Refers to him several times as “the opponent”. He should do better than that … a person wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.’
Thompson came back from the brink in the second set before controlling the third and sealing the match when Nadal over-shot his backhand to end the longest rally of the match.
Nadal has not played tennis in a year and required a medical timeout late in the match against Thompson
Thompson now has a chance to win a home tournament and surge into the world top 40
Nadal, who took an injury timeout to treat soreness in the same hip that required career-saving surgery last year, walked to Thompson’s side of the net and embraced the Australian.
‘He was one of my idols growing up’ Thompson said.
‘I loved Lleyton (Hewitt), loved Andy Murray, loved Rafa.
‘It was special to share the court again and to take him down was a whole other feeling.’
The 29-year-old Sydney talent’s victory capped a banner week for Australia’s men after Alex de Minaur’s defeat of world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the United Cup on Wednesday.
‘Unreal. Aussies in Australia playing good tennis, taking down good names, got to be good for the country,’ Thompson said.
Thompson’s task is to back up on Saturday night against second seed and former world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in Sunday’s final against either top-seeded Dane Holger Rune or in-form Russian Roman Safiullin.
Ranked 55 in the world, Thompson is set to return to the top 50 and could move into the top 40 if he wins the tournament.