Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Nadal survives US Open scare, Williams through to semis

Nadal survives US Open scare, Williams through to semis

The Spaniard had appeared the more tired of the two but he roused himself for one final effort and emerged victorious when Thiem sent a final smash long after four hours and 49 minutes.

On another hot and humid night in NY, this one was never easy: Nadal trailed by a break in the third set before taking it.

Ninth seed Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in NY but the defending champion once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity. "It was a real battle".

"The conditions were tough, a lot of humidity". For me it was... "It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. Thiem then grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third which he stretched to 5-3 but then it was his turn to crack as Nadal raced away with three games to claim a two sets to one lead.

"Tennis is sometimes cruel, this game didn't deserve a loser but there has to be one and, if we skip the first set, we were well matched from start to finish", he noted. Plus, Thiem - an Austrian who turned 25 on Monday - was serving well, taking every point when he put a first serve in, and handling returns without a hitch.

"I had a shower, lay on the table and I didn't want to come back again". The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, there it's 50/50.

Nadal ultimately prevailed at 2:04 a.m., 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5). "I hope that we have many more in the future with a different end". I am focused on trying to make that happen. But this one went to a tiebreak, lost by a sloppy Nadal more than it was won by Thiem, dragging things to a fifth set.

"I'm not sorry. I'm just sorry for my legs".

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"(I am) sad for him because when [he arrived at] this moment, he did all the things well to win the match.

Where can I get tickets for Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem? . "I'm happy that I did this for the first time, even if it went the wrong way".

Remarkably, Thiem was the first top-20 player Nadal has faced at Flushing Meadows since his final win over Novak Djokovic in 2013, with last year's title seeing him take on a succession of unexpected opponents.

"On clay, I think it's one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy or to compete with this guy", said Thiem, who is in the US Open quarterfinals for the first time in four tries.

When the ninth-seeded Thiem forced deuce in that game, Nadal rewarded his friend with a small clap from the other end of the court.

He will play Argentine third seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in Friday's semi-finals.

The tired combatants held serve throughout the fifth - including one triple break point for Nadal - into another tiebreak. Thiem's power off both flanks is what had ultimately undone Nadal on clay on those two occasions and seemed like it would prevail in their first hard-court meeting on Tuesday evening as the Austrian stormed to 6-0 in the opening set in mere 24 minutes.

Isner paid tribute to Del Potro.

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