'Defeat will stay with me forever,' says devastated Thiem

Elena Summers
September 7, 2018

It also made things tough on No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 9 Dominic Thiem during their 4-hour, 49-minute tussle that ended just past 2 a.m. on Wednesday, with Nadal pulling out the 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) victory to return to the semifinals.

In a dramatic final set, Nadal saw five break points come and go before Thiem went long with a smash on the first match point.

Rafael Nadal acknowledged he was fortunate to claim a thrilling US Open quarter-final victory over Dominic Thiem, who he conceded did everything possible to claim victory.

Nadal will play Juan Martin del Potro in a semi-final, the Argentine outslugging John Isner in four sets.

The Austrian blasted 13 winners, made only two unforced errors and allowed Nadal just seven points in winning an extraordinary opening set.

"He has plenty of time to win big tournaments and has everything. Forever I'm going to remember this match, for sure", said Thiem after his first ever hard court match against Nadal.

Thiem dominated on serve, winning 91 percent of his first-serve points (41/45) and never faced a break point. He had already spent almost 10 hours on-court, battling cramps and beating America's Ryan Harrison in five sets during his opener, and on Friday, playing another three hours and 43 minutes against No 28 seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov. "The physical issue was there of course, but I feel good". Thiem, energized after extending the match, held serve to start the set, while Nadal had brushed off the signs of discouragement from the end of the fourth.

After Nadal roared back to take a 2-1 lead, the fourth set went to a tiebreak.

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. "The conditions were tough and very humid", he said. "I was thinking, 'You know, I can play better.' So that was the good news".

Nadal trailed by a break in the third set before taking it.

"I said to Dominic I am sorry".

The Nadal who was gassed and wearing a cooling vest during breaks in the first set was no more.

"When Thiem has beaten Rafa, he's taken the serve early", Rusedski said on Amazon's Prime coverage when giving his thoughts before the match. Having looked the more tired of the two, it was Nadal who was applying the greater pressure and at 5-5, 0-40 it seemed this was his chance.

And the 25-year-old, the only man to beat Nadal on clay for the last two seasons, set about showing his opponent he meant serious business in his first grand slam quarter-final outside of the French Open. As usual, he had to do it without the benefit of many cheap points; he hit just three aces, 15 fewer than Thiem.

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