Nadal sets up semi-final clash with Del Potro

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

The match, which carried on until after 2 a.m. before ending 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5), was Nadal's longest at the U.S. Open.

The Spaniard was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 6-4, 7-5, but not without a fight from Thiem.

The southpaw went down a break in the third and fourth sets as Thiem simply never backed off from making winners off both the wings. "Forever I'm going to remember this match, for sure". "I mean, it's cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser". But there has to be one. And I would say if we skip the first set, it was a really open match from the beginning to the end.

"I'm expecting height into the Thiem backhand and then quick into the forehand side".

"It's been a great battle", an exhausted Nadal said. "The conditions were tough and very humid", he said.

Under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Nadal and Thiem delivered the NY crowd another memorable marathon, this time for a spot in the US Open semifinals.

"I'm very, very sorry", Nadal revealed he'd said to Thiem as they embraced. "I played some good ones before, but not that long, not that long against the great guys on the Grand Slam stage".

"He is young. He has plenty of time to win big tournaments", Nadal said.

In the fourth set, Thiem was a point away from going a double break up at 3-1.

Each player held serve in the second set until Nadal earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. That mistake might have stayed in Nadal's head, because he played terribly in the ensuing tiebreaker.

Leading 6-5 with a chance to take match point, Nadal mishit what looked like an easy volley into the net.

The fourth set was a wild 81-minute ride that began with Thiem facing break points, saw the Austrian threaten a double break before being pegged back and then a tired Nadal miss a chance to win the match.

Del Potro, the No. 3 seed, got to the semifinals by defeating No. 11 John Isner 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

By virtue of losing the opening set against John Isner, Del Potro ensured the US Open will remain the only grand slam in the Open era where no man has won the singles title without dropping a set.

Rafael Nadal, trapped in a nightmare first set against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the US Open, knew where to look for answers. The baby is due on September 22, and Isner has already said he will fly home if it arrives early.

"To reach the semi-final again here in NY in my favourite tournament is very special to me", said Del Potro after his eighth win over Isner in 12 meetings.

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