US Open 2018: Rafael Nadal outlasts Dominic Thiem in 5-set epic
01:05, Sep 10, 2018
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In the end, the top-seeded and defending champion Nadal moved into the U.S. Open semifinals with an 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 win over Thiem in what was a rematch of this year's French Open final.
Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in NY but the Spaniard once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity. For even though Thiem had won more points, been ahead in three of the five sets, powered 74 winners, he froze in the big moments while Nadal flew.
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.
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, sits during a changeover in his match against Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in NY.
"Very demanding in all aspects", Nadal said later.
"I played a lot of long and tough matches in my career".
Next up for Nadal will be Juan Martin del Potro, who advanced to the semis via a four-set win over American John Isner.
'I feel sorry for Dominic, he is a great guy and a great player. "He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best ..."
In an epic encounter that saw both players come up with some brilliant tennis, Nadal called on all his experience as he battled hot and humid conditions to triumph in a deciding set tiebreak after Thiem sent a smash long.
The popular third seed will now attempt to take a step he has not managed since winning his only grand slam title here nine years ago and reach another final.
"Then the third set happened - he served for the set - then I won two games in a row and took the set. I like this feeling, but at the same time you feel exhausted after that", Nadal said. And I played against a great opponent.
"I think in the last three sets I improved". 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. "That's one more today", he said after his 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) win.
Breaking Thiem at a crucial juncture, the World No.1 quickly closed out the set but then found himself in trouble early on in the second. "I don't know if I can get a new one, but I'm doing all my best to try to get it again". But Nadal, after letting the 25-second serve clock expire, rallied to win the point and hold for a 5-4 lead.
"Yeah, it's going to be stuck in my mind forever", Thiem said after the match. "Forever I'm going to remember this match". "Beating John in these kind of matches is like an epic, an epic match". The Spaniard prevailed in four sets, but Basilashvili played an incredible tennis hitting a lot of winners.
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