Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem in US Open quarter-final

Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem in US Open quarter-final

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.

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.

Rafael Nadal has revealed the secret conversation he had with Dominic Thiem after their US Open match.

It was only the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches that Nadal lost a set by a 6-0 score.

"Being honest I am just very, very sorry for Dominic". Plus, Thiem - an Austrian who turned 25 on Monday - was serving well, taking every point when he put a first serve in, and handling returns without a hitch.

"A 6-0 is a very unsafe result", he continued. But still, it was great. "A question of a little bit of luck at the end".

The top seed won just seven points in the opener. Thiem is a top-10 player himself (he's now ranked No. 9), a star in his own right who some consider to be the heir apparent to Nadal. "I like this feeling, but at the same time you feel exhausted after that", Nadal said. "For me it was a tough start". Finish this first set, forget about this start and try to stay in the match in the second.

Nadal was completely dismantled by Thiem in the first set as the American crowd was shocked into silence in NY, the Austrian hitting vaporizing forehands and backhands to wrap up the opener in just 24 minutes - tallying 13 winners, five aces and 24 points in total compared to just seven from the former. At Wimbledon, Nadal came back from two sets to one down to win in five in a quarter-final which stretched to nearly five hours.

The world number one worked his way back into the match but he was never in control and Thiem served for the third set.

Nadal's play typically leaned on his forehand, which produced 29 winners compared with 9 from his backhand.

In the fifth, Nadal held three break points at 5-all, love-40, but Thiem took the next five points told serve. The ninth, however, proved costly: On Nadal's first match point, at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, Thiem misjudged an overhead smash, sending it into the back wall to end the match at 2:03 a.m. on Wednesday.

Thiem at least knows that even if all three of his wins against Nadal have been on clay, they were still key moments. "It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments".

Nadal was hitting the ball with intent, making Thiem go close to the lines and corners. He is a fighter with a great attitude so that is the most important thing.

"I said to Dominic I am sorry. But in few days I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe this great match". "Top person, sorry for him, but I'm sure he will have his chances in the future without a doubt". And, yes, I played against a great opponent.

"On clay, I think it´s one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy or to compete with this guy".

The match might have gone his way if not for tennis' unique scoring system: Thiem won five more total points in the match, 171-166.

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