US Open 2018: Nadal survives 5-set thriller against Thiem

06 September, 2018, 02:34 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Nadal was tested for the second match running in New York

The match proved far closer than Thiem's attempt to unseat Nadal in the French Open final earlier in 2018, when the Spaniard won 6-4 6-3 6-2. Nadal's ability to look only forward and forget what went before is one of his most important strengths and he set about turning around the match, closing in on the baseline, forcing Thiem to play one more ball and, eventually, to go for too much.

"Of course, you know that your chances to play these kind of matches every time are less", Nadal said. "It was a real battle. The conditions were tough and very humid", he said. For me it was...

The fact that Thiem has beaten the "King of Clay" three times on the dirt will give him huge confidence that he has what it takes to win here in what will be their first meeting on a hard court.

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.

"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. Some patented Nadal scrambling forced Thiem to take one more swing, an overhead, and the 25-year-old Austrian pulled it long.

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.

"When these things happen, normally I am not the guy that looks at the string or looks at the box or looks at the racket", said Nadal, who absorbed a 6-0 loss of the opening set, winning just seven points as Thiem rode roughshod over him in 24 minutes. I fought until the end.

Those choruses resonated in the arena after key points, such as each time del Potro erased one of Isner's break chances, three in all.


What was most impressive in a match that featured brilliant shot-making and powerful, line-clipping groundstrokes over the course of almost five hours was that Thiem looked to be the fresher player compared to the 17-time Grand Slam champion who is known for his fight on the court.

"I'm not sorry. I'm just sorry for my legs".

"I'm sad for him because when this moment arrived, he did all the things well to win the match". And it was the way Nadal won - with power and tireless energy, matching his younger opponent's athleticism and appearing to grow stronger with each monstrous forehand - that told the story of how the two best players in the world have fared in recent months.

Nadal had said he was sorry to defeat to Thiem, who joked: "I don't think he's really sorry". Thiem collected 24 of the opening set's 31 points, thanks in large part to a 13-3 edge in winners.

When the match was finished, Nadal hopped over the net and embraced his good friend Thiem.

The semifinal will pit Nadal against third seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam.

He said: "I have my trophy at home".

In the final set tiebreaker, the two men traded early mini-breaks to get back on serve.

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