Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Nadal edges Thiem in 5-set thriller

Nadal edges Thiem in 5-set thriller

This was the longest match Rafael Nadal has ever played in NY and he was forced to give his best after a slow start and overpower a great rival who finally produced super quality tennis outside clay and proved his position in the Top 10.

"The match was special for its different phases", Nadal said afterwards. "It was a real battle".

"I played a lot of long and tough matches in my career". For me it was...

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. Thiem then grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third which he stretched to 5-3 but then it was his turn to crack as Nadal raced away with three games to claim a two sets to one lead.

There are no chill Rafael Nadal matches, like oh cool, I'll watch some tennis and my blood pressure will stay level. "I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old. The Spaniard finally found his range in the second set, he couldn't dictate the points but he at least started to win points on his serve easily, getting broken once but scoring two breaks for a 6-4.

Most players would have been left deflated after falling behind in such a manner, but Thiem was not in that category-- the former world No. 4 raising his game another level to take out the tie-break, having surrendered 3-1 and 4-2 leads against Nadal, who saved six break points in the set.

It's Theim's best ever performance at a US Open, but commentator John McEnroe says the Austrian will need to dig deep to come back from this defeat.

This was tennis at its absolute best, according to David Law (BBC 5 Live) and Catherine Whitaker (Amazon Prime Video), and also a brilliant advert for fifth set tiebreaks.

"On clay, I think it´s one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy or to compete with this guy". He is a fighter with a great attitude so that is the most important thing.

"For this poor guy, this is just a killer match", McEnroe said on ESPN. "But I just keep going".

Nadal will face third seed Juan Martin Del Potro in the first of the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

With his first words to the media, Thiem underscored the weight of this match to both men. He is a close friend on tour and a great player. "But I don't play dropshots when I see the player struggling or bending over, no", Sevastova said.

"I'm very, very sorry for Dominic", Nadal said.

Nadal crossed over to Thiem's side of the net and the two embraced. Despite opening the season with a title in Melbourne, his 20th major win, the image of Federer struggling against Millman on Ashe - and later admitting to the media he was just happy the match had ended - is what will stick in the minds of fans until he gives them reason to believe Monday was nothing more than an off day at work and not a signpost for the future.

Nadal stole a break to stay in the set, held quickly for 6-5 and cashed his third set point on the Thiem serve with a missile of a forehand victor.

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