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. Nadal held serve to win his first game of the match to start the second set and dug deep in a grueling back-and-forth classic to advance to the semifinals, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.
"Thank you very much everybody for staying here tonight", Nadal said after the four hour, 49 minute marathon.
For the finals of the U.S. Open to Nadal, being the primary racket of the world, will compete with Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, sown by the third quantity.
Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Dominic Thiem during the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament on September 5, 2018, in NY.
Nadal, the defending champion, needed almost five hours to defeat ninth seed Thiem in a deciding tie-break after losing the opening set 6-0.
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Thiem is looking to reach the semi-finals, having reached his first last-eight match outside of the French Open as Nadal seeks a fourth title at Flushing Meadows.
"I'm very, very sorry", Nadal revealed he'd said to Thiem as they embraced.
Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori face each other in a rematch of the 2014 final while, in the remaining women's quarter-finals, Madison Keys takes on Carla Suarez Navarro and Naomi Osaka meets Lesia Tsurenko.
Nadal was clearly rattled and lost the first three points of the tiebreak that Thiem won 7-4 to force a fourth set.
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Despite lasting just short of five hours - the longest match of the tournament thus far - the quality never waned, and while the ninth seed appeared to have more left in the tank, Nadal's grit and determination dragged him through.
"He did all the things well to win the match", Nadal said. He always plays and practices with a great attitude. "I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old.
And Rusedski believes Thiem's best chance of knocking out Nadal is if he dictates matters from the baseline. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments".
The fourth was another evenly matched affair, Thiem threatening the Nadal serve in game five before snatching a break two games later. "I'm going to remember this match, for sure", Thiem said. Yeah, it was [a] question of little bit of luck at the end. 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.
Even the tiebreak was close, with Nadal edging ahead for 6-5 before the Austrian sent a ball sailing long to wrap up a long evening of brutal hitting. Del Potro beat John Isner in a match that played out as most people expected.
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