US Open: Nadal beats Dominic Thiem in epic quarter-final

Bobbie Reid
September 6, 2018

He didn't cast his eyes toward the support team in his box, or send his racquets out to be restrung.

Rafael Nadal began his U.S. Open quarterfinal as poorly as possible, shut out in a set by a 6-0 score for only the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches.

"I don't think he is sorry", the Austrian said with a laugh. It was a step forward for me in the dynamic of the tournament.

"So it's always nice when you have your better half that can easily travel with you and also support you, see your match and understand what you're doing".

That's just what the 17-time Grand Slam champion did over the course of a 4-hour 49-minute epic that concluded at 2:04 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5.

"I am playing a lot of hours on this lovely stadium, that does not bother me - it just bothers my legs", he said. I am focused on trying to make that happen.

"Maybe not if the player is inferior to you, but if it he's not inferior, or is of a similar level".

Nadal was on 55 winners and 49 unforced errors, winning six points less than his rival thanks to that awful first set but doing what he had to do in the end despite the fact he wasted five break points in the deciding set while Thiem had none.

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But first Stephens has to play Sevastova, the same woman she defeated in three sets in the quarterfinals past year . The 33-year-old Estonian pushed Williams, but the six-time champ relied on her serve - and her nerve - to hold on.

After suffering a first set "bagel", Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.

Asked about that at his news conference, Thiem said with a chuckle: "Well, I don't think he's really sorry". "The only thing which was uncomfortable was the sweating I couldn't run any more in the fourth set because the shoes were completely wet", Thiem said. "Keep going", the victor said of the embrace.

"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. "But there has to be one".

Nadal leads their head-to-head 7-3 with all of their matches coming on clay courts, including in the final of Roland Garros in June when he captured an 11th French Open. "After that first set, then the match became more normal", said Nadal.

Sevastova, who retired from tennis in 2013 due to injuries before returning in 2015, almost let Stephens into the match in the second set as the American twice pulled back on serve at 2-1 and again at 4-3, but the fightback proved short-lived. Not only was Nadal two points from losing at 5-all in the closing tiebreaker, but he finished with fewer total points, 171-166.

7-6 (7-5) after four hours and 48 minutes to set up a clash with Juan Martin del Potro.

Del Potro's victory was no walk in the park either, the Argentinian battling through strength-sapping heat and humidity to win 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-2. "It was a very tough start". I think we nearly all the time have great matches. I want to do really well. Also, the Spaniard is now 45-3 this season, making it one of his best starts of the year and giving him a clear lead over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the ATP Race list.

Marin Cilic will face Kei Nishikori in a repeat of the 2014 final won by the giant Croat.

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