Nadal outlasts Thiem in 5-set US Open thriller


Rafael Nadal, trapped in a nightmare first set against Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the US Open, knew where to look for answers.

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. Thiem was also 5-3 ahead in the third set and 4-2 in the fourth before he was reeled in by Nadal, the three-time champion in NY.

Nadal recovered from losing the first set without winning a game to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a gruelling four hour and-49-minute epic.

The U.S. open championship 2018 will finish on 9 September. Even the 11-time French Open champ himself has said he believes Thiem will win titles at Roland Garros and, if Tuesday night was any indication, that's only the beginning.

Nadal will now meet Argentine and world number three Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals, but the 32-year-old revealed the conversation he had with his Austrian opponent Thiem.

Earlier in the night session inside a hot and humid Arthur Ashe, Serena Williams advanced to the semis with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova. Nadal was sweating so much in the 90-degree heat and 50-per cent humidity that a mountain of white towels formed next to his changeover bench.

"To play John in these kind of matches, it's like an epic". 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 viewed the match as an important experience in his young career.

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Gauff received a wild card this year into the qualifiers for the main draw at Flushing Meadows, but lost 6-4, 6-1 to Heather Watson of England.

Elsewhere, there was a big surprise in the opening match of the day when Sloane Stephens was beaten in straight-sets by Anastasija Sevastova.

Stephens beat Sevastova a year ago on her way to the title, but had no answer for the Latvian on Tuesday.

"He has to go out there and really set the tone".

But Sevastova broke again to go up 3-1. "Forever I'm going to remember this match, for sure", said Thiem after his first ever hard court match against Nadal. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker. How did Sevastova "bamboozle" the defending champion?

With his first words to the media, Thiem underscored the weight of this match to both men. In the last game of the third set, he ran Thiem from corner to corner before squeezing back-to-back backhand down the line winners and taking the 12th game to deuce.

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.