Nadal sails into US Open semis

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Rafael Nadal recovered from a first-set bagel to defeat Dominic Thiem and reach the US Open semi-finals following another late-night classic in NY.

Seeking his 18th grand slam trophy, Nadal was stunned in a first set won to love by Thiem before the Spaniard came back to take the next two.

Thiem entered the quarter-final after he knocked out South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson - the man who lost in the final to Nadal at Flushing Meadows previous year - in three sets earlier on Sunday.

The tournament and the city that never sleeps was kept up until 2.04am on Wednesday morning when Rafael Nadal finally toppled Dominic Thiem in an epic US Open quarter-final. The conditions were tough.

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.

"I'm very sorry for Dominic", Nadal told a rowdy crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium. "He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best". The quarterfinal between Nadal and Thiem had night-match classic written all over it, and the Spaniard and the Austrian delivered.

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 two big men battered each other to near exhaustion in the heat and humidity but it was the third seed who proved the stronger to prevail 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in three-and-a-half hours.




"He did all the things well to win the match", Nadal said.

"Tennis is sometimes cruel, this game didn't deserve a loser but there has to be one and, if we skip the first set, we were well matched from start to finish", he noted.

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

At this point, Thiem had to ask for a new pair of shoes and socks because his were waterlogged from sweating so much.

But she trailed by a break in the opening set, and then was a point from being behind 4-1, before turning things around. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments".

The Nadal who was gassed and wearing a cooling vest during breaks in the first set was no more. "I don't know if I can get a new one, but I'm doing all my best to try to get it again".

Perhaps Thiem, after a change of socks and shoes, looked the fresher going into the decider but he needed to save two break points at 2-2, one with an ace, to maintain parity. But Nadal, after letting the 25-second serve clock expire, rallied to win the point and hold for a 5-4 lead.

"To play John in these kind of matches, it's like an epic". But the challenge of playing him on hard of course is even higher for me personally than playing against him on clay.

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