Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Nadal into US Open semi-final after epic triumph over Thiem

Nadal advances to face Thiem in U.S. Open quarterfinals Thiem, Nadal into quarterfinals
Eugene Bates | 05 September, 2018, 11:40

"I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old.

In the final set tiebreaker, the two men traded early mini-breaks to get back on serve.

"It's been a great battle", an exhausted Nadal said.

Nadal has the best part of two days to recover before a semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, while the world No 9 left a stadium largely drained of spectators with nothing more than a reminder of his opponent's incredible fighting qualities.

Nadal stole a break to stay in the set, held quickly for 6-5 and cashed his third set point on the Thiem serve with a missile of a forehand victor. "Keep going always, you can a little bit more, and that's the only reason I can be where I am today".

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. This was the longest match Rafael Nadal has ever played in NY and he was forced to give his best after a slow start and overpower a great rival who finally produced super quality tennis outside clay and proved his position in the Top 10.

Thiem took a 5-4 lead before Nadal won both service points to set up his first match point.

When the match was finished, Nadal hopped over the net and embraced his good friend Thiem.

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.

Dominic blasted three winners in game six to bring the opener home in 24 minutes, producing one of the best sets against Nadal ever and hoping for more in the rest of the match! The pair also clashed in the Wimbledon quarters, where Nadal survived in a five-set encounter after going down two sets to one. "Without that energy it (would) be impossible to win the match".

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.

Nadal's ability to look only forward and forget what went before is one of his most important strengths and he set about turning around the match, closing in on the baseline, forcing Thiem to play one more ball and, eventually, to go for too much.

The momentum was with Nadal but Thiem regrouped in the third set and began to again blast winners into the corners.

With Thiem serving at 5-6 30-30, a desperate lunging forehand looked to be easy pickings for Nadal only for the 32-year-old to net it. The two were neck-in-neck at 5-5 when Nadal carved out a match point with his forehand. The Spaniard saved a break point in games nine and 11 but he stood no chance in the tie break, losing it 7-4 following a routine forehand that he sent into the net, handing the set to his rival and setting up a decider after more than three and a half hours of unbelievable battle! But Thiem saved all three break points before denying Nadal a fourth opportunity with a stunning volley at the end of a remarkable point.

The Austrian hung his head before being consoled by Nadal who then held his arms aloft in celebration and relief.

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