Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

Finishing just after 2 a.m local time, the defending champion saw off his younger Austrian opponent 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in what was his longest match at the US Open.

But the 17-time grand slam champion battled back to win the second and third sets before Thiem came out on top of an 81-minute fourth set to take the match into a nerve-wracking decider. 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 Spaniard had appeared the more tired of the two but he roused himself for one final effort and emerged victorious when Thiem sent a final smash long after four hours and 49 minutes.

"What is important about this match is the level of tennis, the dramatic match", Nadal said in his news conference shortly after play ended. "The conditions were tough and very humid", he said.

Nadal may not be as scucsessul in NY as he is in Paris, but with three US Open titles to his name, he's still won more than most and his pedigree started to show as the second set started.

Juan Martin del Potro beat John Isner to make a second straight U.S. Open semifinal, and extend the Americans' drought at their host tournament. But I have to say, the last two sets the level of tennis was incredible. "I just wish him all the very, very best". Thiem, energized after extending the match, held serve to start the set, while Nadal had brushed off the signs of discouragement from the end of the fourth.

It was only the fourth time in his long grand slam history that Nadal had lost a set 6-0 and just the third time at any level in almost seven years.

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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'm so happy to reach another semi-finals in my favourite tournament", del Potro said in his on-court interview. And I played against a great opponent.

"This match didn't deserve a loser, but there has to be one". He's a great guy, a close friend who will have many more opportunities to win the big titles. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker. "He made one more point than me".

In the fourth set, Thiem once again took control early, breaking Nadal to take a 2-1 lead.

"That's very special to me".

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.

"I'm going to remember this match, for sure". Both maintained serves in the 120s and showed little sign of fatigue playing through long rallies more than four hours into the match. "Beating John in these kind of matches is like an epic, an epic match".

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