Nadal was very apologetic to his opponent as they embraced at the net following the marathon match.
Defending champion Rafa Nadal failed to win a single game in the opening set of his U.S. Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday but fought back to beat the Austrian 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) in a match that ended after 2 a.m.in NY. On Monday night, Roger Federer fell to unseeded John Millman, ending the world No. 2's dreams of capturing a title he hasn't won in a decade.
Nadal said that losing the first set by 6-0 was not in his plan but he accepted it with "humility", while in the fifth he had "more options" than Thiem. "He has a great attitude and is a great fighter", added Nadal.
There was no let-up in the tie-break and, after four hours and 49 minutes, it was Nadal who claimed victory when Thiem sent a smash long. "He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best". It was a very tough start for me.
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.
Juan Mart'n Del Potro of Argentina celebrates after match point against Borna Coric of Croatia (not pictured) in the fourth round on day seven of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Nadal leads 11-5, including the past three, each at a Grand Slam tournament: in the semifinals of the US Open last year, followed by the semifinals of the French Open and a five-set thriller in the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year.
After Nadal roared back to take a 2-1 lead, the fourth set went to a tiebreak.
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That, Nadal would say afterward, managed to "break my heart". The top seed won just seven points in the opener.
Thiem was broken serving for the set and then could not hold on for the tie-break, saving two set points but not a third after planting a volley wide with the whole of the court available. The 36-year-old secured a semi-final berth after defeating Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 in the quarter-final match.
Thiem handed Nadal, against whom he lost in the Roland Garros final in June, just his fourth ever "bagel" set at the Slams.
"You need one more always and give that little bit more". I don't want to lose against anybody.
"I'm going to remember this match, for sure". I think we nearly all the time have great matches. "Tennis is cruel sometimes because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser".
For the second night in a row, the end of The Tennis Podcast had to be recorded at past 2am in NY in order to cover the thrilling events of the US Open night session. "I mean, he's a great guy".
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.