Nadal outlasts Thiem in epic five-setter to reach semis

Rafael Nadal is targeting his 18th Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal is targeting his 18th Grand Slam title

Defending champion Nadal lost the opening set 6-0 in NY as ninth seed Thiem looked to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

On the previous three such occasions, he'd lost. "Then I tried to stay in the match, in some way".

Nadal's victory has come a day after his eternal rival Roger Federer was knocked out of the US Open in the round of 16 match by Australia's John Millman.

Thiem, meanwhile, has finally found some form after a post-clay court season malaise.

"I hope that it´s a little bit more comfortable on hard court, but I´m not sure". 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. "It means a lot to me".

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

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.

"I have had three very nice experiences and seven terrible experiences", said Thiem, who has made the last-eight at a Slam other than Roland Garros for the first time.

"Wake up", Nadal said he told himself.

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Asked about that at his news conference, Thiem said with a chuckle: "Well, I don't think he's really sorry". I don't want to lose against anybody. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final. He saved 12 break points, including three while serving at 5-5, 0-40 in the fifth set.

Nadal ran into an inspired opponent for the second match in a row and was put through his paces by Nikoloz Basilashvili before eventually coming through 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

The depth and strength of Thiem's groundstrokes were doing what Nadal's shots usually do to opponents: robbing them of time and space. 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.

He paid tribute to the crowd, which kept up their vocal support of the three-time US Open champion despite the hours stretching into the early NY morning.

After the match the Spaniard said he was "sorry" for inflicting the defeat on the 25-year-old.

In the first Nadal was all over the place, totally unable to find any rhythm and a set down after just 26 minutes when he won just seven points.

Williams was on track to meet defending champion Sloane Stephens in the semi-finals but her third-seeded countrywoman was dumped out of the tournament via a 6-2, 6-3 loss to 19th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Del Potro, the 6-foot-6 (1.98m) Tower of Tandil knows it will be a battle against 6-foot-10 (2.08m) Isner, who has blasted a tournament-leading 112 aces.

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