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Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

10 September, 2018, 01:06 | Author: John Swanson
  • US Open Dominic Thiem upends Kevin Anderson to reach the quarters

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.

Rafael Nadal began his U.S. Open quarterfinal as poorly as possible, shut out in a set by a 6-0 score for only the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches. The world No 1 and three-time victor at Flushing Meadows came within two points of victory, but Thiem wound up taking the fourth set on a tiebreak.

The final result was 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6 (4) -7 and 7-6 (5) in 4 hours and 49 minutes, which is the longest match of this edition of the tournament.

"A great battle", Nadal told ESPN.

"It's been a great battle, the conditions were tough, a lot of humidity. For me it was a tough start".

The clocked ticked past 2am at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where fans stood on their feet and applauded every point as 17-time major champion Nadal surpassed his four hour and 23-minute contest with Karen Khachanov in round three to earn a semi-final showdown with Juan Martin del Potro.

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"To be honest, I am very, very sorry for Dominic", he added. "He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best".

Nadal was on the receiving end of an embarrassing first-set bagel against Thiem.

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.

The Spaniard secured the break he wanted for 5-3 only to give it back but a sloppy game from Thiem, who turned 25 on Monday, handed him the set anyway.

"I am the guy to look at myself", Nadal said. "Tennis is cruel sometimes because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser".

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.

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"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments", he said on court. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker.

In the fourth set, Thiem was a point away from going a double break up at 3-1.

"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said.

"I'm sad for him because when this moment arrived, he did all the things well to win the match".

"I like people who try hard to achieve their goals and he is one of them". He had beaten the 6'6 Argentine at the same stage of the US Open last year and had ended Delpo's campaign at the French (semis) and Wimbledon (quarters) this year as well.

It was the first still moment in almost five hours of epic, smash-ball, anything-you-can-hit-I-can-hit-harder tennis. Del Potro beat John Isner in a match that played out as most people expected.

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She then dropped her racket and held her hands to her face as a Stephens shot went into the net on the match's final point.

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