‘It’s cruel, sometimes, tennis’: Nadal tops Thiem at US Open

Sherman Parsons
September 10, 2018

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.

Number one seed Nadal said his legs were feeling the strain at the end of the marathon session, which see-sawed back and forth between the Spaniard and his younger Austrian opponent, before a nerve-wracking fifth set ended even to send it to a tiebreak. "The conditions were tough, very humid for me".

"I said to Dominic I am sorry".

He said: "I'm very appreciative of that".

When that emblem of career longevity Serena Williams was asked Tuesday night following her win in the U.S. Open quarterfinals why the desire to win another Grand Slam title burns hotter in her than it did before she took time off to have her daughter, she gave an answer that made tennis fans a bit weepy.

Nadal has the best part of two days to recover before a semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, while the world No 9 left a stadium largely drained of spectators with nothing more than a reminder of his opponent's incredible fighting qualities.

Nadal trailed by a break in the third set before taking it.

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"For both the spectators and players".

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.

Nadal had to regroup again for the fifth set. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker. He was ready for battle.

The defending champion needed almost five hours to defeat ninth seed Dominic Thiem in a deciding tie-break after losing the opening set 6-0 and will face Juan Martin del Potro on Friday in a rematch of last year's semi-final. Defending champion Stephens is up first on Arthur Ashe Stadium, facing No. 19 seed Anastasija Sevastova in a rematch of Stephens' three-set victory in the same round at Flushing Meadows previous year. But Nadal was ready for the moment, breaking Thiem to tie the set at 5-5.

Nadal won the third set 7-5, and seemed to be on the verge of winning the fourth.

In the fourth set, Thiem was a point away from going a double break up at 3-1. He was two points from victory at 6-5, deuce, in the fourth as Thiem served, but flubbed a forehand volley, leaping for a ball that appeared to be sailing out and dumping it into the net. "The only truth is that you have to do things better to be able to fight for the point and fight for the match".

Nadal holds an 11-5 record against Del Potro. He was visibly upset as Thiem won the game to force a tiebreak. Thiem was also 5-3 ahead in the third set and 4-2 in the fourth before he was reeled in by Nadal, the three-time champion in NY. That's one more today.

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