Nadal outlasts Thiem in US Open classic to reach semis

Rafael Nadal

There was nothing left to give and, when a sprayed overhead smash from Thiem sealed Nadal's epic 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) US Open quarter-final victor on Wednesday, Nadal's reaction spoke volumes of his character.

Nadal could easily have wrapped it up in the fourth set and missed five break points in the decider, but found a way to take one last opportunity against Thiem and his flowing single handed backhand.

Rafael Nadal had his longest match ever at the US Open on Tuesday, and he eventually emerged victorious over Dominic Thiem.

"The match was special for its different phases", Nadal said afterwards. "But in some way, being honest, I had a very tough injury in 2005".

Nadal may not be as scucsessul in NY as he is in Paris, but with three US Open titles to his name, he's still won more than most and his pedigree started to show as the second set started.

The victory, which puts the defending champion through to his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, came hours after Williams booked her 12th U.S. Open semifinal and the night after Roger Federer was ousted by the unseeded Australian John Millman in the fourth round. For me it was a very tough start. The win was sealed when Thiem missed a hard overhead smash long, and Nadal looked to the sky, equal parts overjoyed and relieved.

It was only the fourth time in his long grand slam history that Nadal had lost a set 6-0 and just the third time at any level in almost seven years.

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The 2009 champion won 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 and will face top-ranked Rafael Nadal or No. 9 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals.

"It was a very tough start", Nadal said. "He's a close friend on tour".

"I think in the last three sets I improved".

"I would say the first really epic match I played".

Nadal then held serve to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the set on Thiem's serve on his third set point. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments". But, as in the second set, when the time came to keep his foot on Nadal's throat, he instead loosened the pressure and lived to regret it. "He made one more point than me". I think in a way it's good for Nadal that he lost the third set tie-break, refocused and won the fourth.

"It's going to be stuck in my mind forever", Thiem said.

But while Isner was playing before what could count as a home crowd, del Potro got all manner of support throughout, from the blue-and-white flags or soccer jerseys dotting the stands to the repeated singsong chants of his nickname, "Delpo", punctuated by clapping. He had beaten the 6'6 Argentine at the same stage of the US Open last year and had ended Delpo's campaign at the French (semis) and Wimbledon (quarters) this year as well. "But in a few days I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe this great match".

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