Nadal outlasts Thiem in epic five-setter to reach semis

Iron man Dominic Thiem celebrates after beating Kevin Anderson

Top seed Rafael Nadal has been pushed all the way in his US Open quarter final, needing five sets and almost five hours to overcome Austria's Dominic Thiem, in a match that finished after 2am NY time.

Nadal was shockingly shut out in the first set by a 6-0 score, before coming back to take the next two 6-4, 7-5. For even though Thiem had won more points, been ahead in three of the five sets, powered 74 winners, he froze in the big moments while Nadal flew.

The 32-year-old managed to clinch a 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) victory over his Austrian opponent in an epic five-set clash that lasted four hours and 49 minutes.

He was two solid very tough matches in a row now.' Wilander also commented on Nadal's game and its possible improvements: 'I would like to see Rafa go forward a little bit more, but we have to remember that it's the second week and they wanna try to preserve as much energy as possible.

He said: "I'm very appreciative of that".

"I don't think I have another 10 years of having opportunities to be able to play and win championships", Williams said. "I played some good ones before, but not that long, not that long against the great guys on the Grand Slam stage".

In an epic encounter that saw both players come up with some brilliant tennis, Nadal called on all his experience as he battled hot and humid conditions to triumph in a deciding set tiebreak after Thiem sent a smash long.

The semi-final will pit Nadal against third seed Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam.

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 like this feeling, but at the same time you feel exhausted after that", Nadal said.

Nadal said he had told Thiem he was sorry for the result although the Austrian laughed off that consolation from his close friend. "Tennis is cruel sometimes because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser". That win should build confidence for Thiem as he takes on the tournament's number one ranked player.

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

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. "I hope that we have many more in the future with a different end".

"It's going to be stuck in my mind forever", Thiem said. The giant American was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award following the quarter-final to recognise his conduct during the tournament and the warm-up events.

The disappointment of failing to create a first match point seemed to weigh on him in the tiebreak and he played it dreadfully, showing rare confusion in going 0-3 down and then losing it 7-4. "I'm playing a lot of hours this year at this attractive stadium".

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