(Brisbane) Rafael Nadal missed three match points and needed a medical timeout on Friday before losing to Australian Jordan Thompson in the quarterfinals of his comeback tournament after a year absence due to injury.

A winner of 22 career GrandxSlam tournaments, Nadal failed to convert a match point in the 10th game of the second set and two more in the tiebreaker of the same second set before Thompson, 55th in the world rankings, won 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-3 at the Brisbane International Tournament.

With the Australian Open getting underway on January 14, Nadal’s rehabilitation from a hip injury and surgery that sidelined him for most of 2023 will be put to the test .

The 37-year-old Spaniard began the tournament with straight-set victories over Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler, but was pushed for 3 hours and 25 minutes by Thompson in what was his third match in four nights.

His energy level visibly dropped at the start of the third set. And after Thompson broke in the fourth game and held on for a 4-1 lead, Nadal was evaluated by a trainer, apparently for a problem with his upper left leg.

He left the court for a medical timeout before returning and playing for 20 more minutes.

After sending a backhand long on match point to end the longest rally of the clash, Nadal circled the net to congratulate Thompson. He then greeted the crowd before leaving the Pat-Rafter Arena around midnight.

In the semifinals, Thompson will face second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who defeated Rinky Hijikata 6-1, 6-4.

Earlier in the day, tournament favorite Holger Rune of Denmark reached the semifinals with a 6-2, 7-6 (6) victory over James Duckworth. He will cross swords with Roman Safiullin, who beat Matteo Arnaldi 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will find themselves on opposite sides of the net in the women’s singles semi-final in Brisbane, almost five years after they teamed up on the same court in a Fed semi-final match Cup against Australia.

Sabalenka, reigning Australian Open champion, confirmed this next meeting with her compatriot by defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4 on Friday evening.

As a result, Sabalenka extended her winning streak in Australia to 14. Before triumphing in Melbourne and earning a first Grand Slam tournament title, Sabalenka started 2023 by winning the Adelaide tournament.

Sabalenka totally dominated the first set by keeping Kasatkina behind the baseline with her powerful and deep shots. She amassed 32 winners and lost her serve only once in a matchup that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Azarenka, twice champion at the Australian Open (2012 and 2013) as well as in Brisbane (2009 and 2016), did not have it so easy.

It took her two hours and 30 minutes to eliminate Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Azarenka racked up 16 aces, committed just two double faults and moved with ease. On the other hand, Ostapenko’s powerful punches caused him trouble in the second and third rounds.

The other semi-final will pit second seed Elena Rybakina against Linda Noskova.

Rybakina won the first set 6-1 when Anastasia Potapova retired due to an abdominal injury. For her part, Noskova defeated 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 7-5, 6-3.