Nadal sails into US Open semis


Rafael Nadal acknowledged he was fortunate to claim a thrilling US Open quarter-final victory over Dominic Thiem, who he conceded did everything possible to claim victory.

Twenty-four hours after Roger Federer fell to John Millman, his old rival avoided following him out of the tournament, but only just, completing a 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/5) victory at 2.03am U.S. time. He walked quietly to the center of the court, then stepped over the net and embraced 25-year-old Dominic Thiem.

It was the first time the Spaniard had failed to win a game in a set since Miami in 2017 against Philipp Kohlschreiber, a match Nadal went on to win. He's a great guy.

Nadal won just seven points for the entire set, his nine unforced errors handing the set to Thiem on a plate.

Nadal could easily have wrapped it up in the fourth set and missed five break points in the decider, but found a way to take one last opportunity against Thiem and his flowing single handed backhand. "Have been physically demanding because the conditions have been tough out there", he said.

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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.

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

Meanwhile, Thiem said his epic defeat to close friend Nadal i will "stay with me forever".

"I'm going to remember this match, for sure".

With a heat wave striking NY and temperatures crossing 27 degrees at night, it appeared that Nadal would see off the tie with a four-set victory but Thiem's seemed to have found his mojo once again.

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The semifinal will pit Nadal against third seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam. But, as in the second set, when the time came to keep his foot on Nadal's throat, he instead loosened the pressure and lived to regret it.

Those choruses resonated in the arena after key points, such as each time del Potro erased one of Isner's break chances, three in all. It's cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser. Nadal looked poised to serve for the match holding a 40-0 lead in the game that included a double fault.

'I think from the third set he moved a little bit up. "Beating John in these kind of matches is like an epic, an epic match".

Del Potro admitted the 33-degree temperatures proved a real challenge with the 10-minute heat rule allowing the players a welcome respite after the third set. "It's good to have now two days [without a match] that probably give me the chance to be 100 per cent in the semi-finals". She received a wild card into last year's U.S. Open and became the youngest player ever to make the girls' final.

The Austrian hung his head before being consoled by Nadal who then held his arms aloft in celebration and relief.

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