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Nadal sails into US Open semis

08 September, 2018, 02:17 | Author: John Swanson
  • Rafael Nadal

Dominic Thiem, of Austria, reacts after losing a point to Rafael Nadal, of Spain, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in NY.

At the end of four hours and 49 minutes, at 2:04 am NY time, that's the word Thiem was left ruing.

The Spaniard moves on to the semi-finals where he will meet Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, world no. 3 who defeated American John Isner 6 (5)-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Tuesday.

"I'm very, very sorry", Nadal revealed he'd said to Thiem as they embraced.

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. Nadal had also played the second-longest match of this year's tournament: his four-set win over Karen Khachanov in the third round, which lasted four hours, 23 minutes.

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With the World No. 9 having never met Nadal in any surface other than the red dirt in 10 meetings, it was hard to envisage how the match would unfold. The fourth was an 81-minute rollercoaster ride, where Nadal came within two points of winning only for Thiem to take the tie-break.

But Nadal held on and is into the semifinals at a third consecutive major tournament, as he bids for a fourth US Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. Yeah, it was [a] question of little bit of luck at the end.

"It's been a great battle", an exhausted Nadal said. "The only thing that I was thinking was to finish this first set and forget about this start".

After Nadal roared back to take a 2-1 lead, the fourth set went to a tiebreak. "But in few days I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe this great match".

Thiem told a post-match media conference: "It's going to be stuck in my mind forever".

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"He has a great attitude and is a great fighter", added Nadal.

"The conditions were tough, a lot of humidity".

Nadal recovered from being broken as he served for the second set in the ninth game with an immediate break back to level the contest. "Besides this first set, it was just an open and great game". Thiem collected 24 of the opening set's 31 points, thanks in large part to a 13-3 edge in winners.

"I had a shower, lay on the table and I didn't want to come back again".

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.

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