Rafael Nadal outlasts Thiem in 5-set U.S. Open thriller

Rafael Nadal outlasts Thiem in 5-set U.S. Open thriller

Ninth seed Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in NY but the defending champion once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity. He needed only 24 minutes to take the first set.

The he hit the on button. It was tough to see Thiem go down 6-0, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5) after the tenacity and stamina he displayed in the near five-hour epic.

"It has been a great battle".

"It was physically demanding because the conditions were tough out there, too". For me it was a very tough start. "Besides this first set, it was just an open and great game".

It was the fourth win for Nadal in four Grand Slam matches against Thiem, the most recent coming in May's French Open Final. The quarterfinal between Nadal and Thiem had night-match classic written all over it, and the Spaniard and the Austrian delivered. By this time, both players were drenched in sweat playing on a muggy 85-degree NY night.

When it ended, on an overhead by Thiem that sailed long, everyone in Nadal's guest box - a group that included actor Ben Stiller - leaped to their feet to celebrate.

Rafael Nadal in action against Dominic Thiem at the US Open. But when he came out to serve for the set at 5-4, the Austrian was visibly hesitant, Nadal bounded behind the baseline. He was ready for battle.

After absorbing a 24-minute bludgeoning in the first set, Nadal came back to win 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) in four hours, 49 minutes to reach the semifinals.

The third set was another grind.

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His 56 winners were erased by 59 unforced errors, three times as many as Nadal.

Stiller is a big tennis fan and took in some matches at the US Open with his ex-wife and their daughter earlier in the week. But Nadal was ready for the moment, breaking Thiem to tie the set at 5-5.

Thiem was 4-2 ahead in the fourth set before he was again reeled in and he was two points from defeat in the 12th game.

"If he allows Nadal to control the point, he will be second best".

By virtue of losing the opening set against John Isner, Del Potro ensured the US Open will remain the only grand slam in the Open era where no man has won the singles title without dropping a set. The two were neck-in-neck at 5-5 when Nadal carved out a match point with his forehand.

Day 9 of the US Open 2018 will go down as one of the most memorable days in the final Major of the season.

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.

Neither player blinked with each refusing to be broken.

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