Rafael Nadal outlasts Dominic Thiem in marathon match at US Open

Tyler Owen
September 5, 2018

Defending champion Rafa Nadal failed to win a single game in the opening set of his U.S. Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday but fought back to beat the Austrian 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) in a match that ended after 2 a.m.in NY.

There was no let-up in the tie-break and, after four hours and 49 minutes, it was Nadal who claimed victory when Thiem sent a smash long.

"Very demanding, in all aspects", Nadal said. It was a question of a little bit of luck at the end.

How tense and tight was this one? But he took the tiebreaker before Nadal just proved the steadier of the two in the final set decider. I started to find my rhythm and then the match became more equal.

When it ended, on an overhead by Thiem that sailed long, everyone in Nadal's guest box - a group that included actor Ben Stiller - leaped to their feet to celebrate.

"I always have the passion to play one more point, to take one more ball and it is always the same history".

After suffering a first set "bagel", Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.

"But he's a great guy".

"I am the guy to look at myself", Nadal said. A tough match against a great opponent. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final. Thiem collected 24 of the opening set's 31 points, thanks in large part to a 13-3 edge in winners.

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Nadal paid tribute to the crowd for hanging on until the early hours of Wednesday morning. Nadal was sweating so much in the 90-degree heat and 50 percent humidity that a mountain of white towels formed next to his changeover bench. "I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old. Still, this whole contest was filled with challenges for Nadal.

The Croatian needed a medical timeout in the second set and was then blown away by Del Potro's booming forehand in the third, surrendering the set in just 30 minutes. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker. But Thiem saved all three break points before denying Nadal a fourth opportunity with a stunning volley at the end of a remarkable point. I just keep going always.

When Nadal makes it this far in NY, he usually doesn't stumble.

It was Rafael Nadal's 12th successive victory in the US Open and with the win, the world number one has now managed to win every single quarter-final match he has appeared in the US Open since 2006.

He is bidding for a fourth title at Flushing Meadows and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall.

Nadal, who lost the first set, pocketed the thrilling tie 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.

I'm happy, of course, to be in the semifinals again.

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.

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