Nadal and Thiem battle in NY

Nadal and Thiem battle in NY

Nadal and Thiem battle in NY

Top seed Rafael Nadal has been pushed all the way in his US Open quarter final, needing five sets and almost five hours to overcome Austria's Dominic Thiem, in a match that finished after 2am NY time.

The defending champion was a break down at 5-4 but fought back to move two sets to one up and, though he was unable to close the match out in the fourth, he did so in the fifth-set tie-break, setting up an enticing encounter with Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals. Nadal held serve to win his first game of the match to start the second set and dug deep in a grueling back-and-forth classic to advance to the semifinals, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.

Top seed Nadal had only lost a set 6-0 at a grand slam on three previous occasions - the 2015 Australian Open, 2006 Wimbledon and the 2004 US Open. It was only the third time in the Open era that a men's No. 1 seed won a match after being bageled in the opening set. The match lasted four hours and 49 minutes and did not conclude until 2:04 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Thiem then showed tremendous fight to break straight back, but his joy was short lived as Nadal replied immediately to win the set and level the match.

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.

Leading 6-5 with a chance to take match point, Nadal mishit what looked like an easy volley into the net. And, yes, I played against a great opponent. "I told myself "wake up", said Nadal.

"He's maybe playing some of the best tennis ever right now for him", said the American. "I'm going to remember this match, for sure", Thiem said.

"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments", he said on court. Yeah, it was [a] question of little bit of luck at the end. He's a great guy.

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At this point, Thiem had to ask for a new pair of shoes and socks because his were waterlogged from sweating so much.

"When Thiem has beaten Rafa, he's taken the serve early", Rusedski said on Amazon's Prime coverage when giving his thoughts before the match.

In a rematch of the French Open final, the Spaniard was forced to withstand heavy pressure from the Austrian in a dramatic last-eight tie as he triumphed 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).

Thiem returned the favor, breaking Nadal again to cut the set to 5-4.

Nadal trailed by a break in the third set before taking it. I like to see that trophy every single day. "Beating John in these kind of matches is like an epic, an epic match".

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Despite that, the 29-year-old was never broken in the 3 hour 31 minute match where Isner unleashed 26 aces but was undone by 52 unforced errors compared to Del Potro's 14.

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