Rafa Nadal bounces back from bagel to beat Dominic Thiem in five-set epic
Rafa Nadal v Dominic Thiem 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5)

Rafa Nadal bounces back from bagel to beat Dominic Thiem in five-set epic

04/09/2018

Rafa Nadal prevailed in a thrilling US Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem, winning 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5) over four hours and 49 minutes.

The longest match of the US Open so far saw top seed Nadal comprehensively beaten in the opening set, before showing all his immense reserves of fight and spirit to knock out the ninth seed.

Nadal will face third seed Juan Martin Del Potro in the first of the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.

Twenty-four hours after Roger Federer fell to John Millman, his old rival avoided following him out of the tournament, but only just. Ninth seed Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in New York but the defending champion once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity.

Remarkably, Thiem was the first top-20 player Nadal has faced at Flushing Meadows since his final win over Novak Djokovic in 2013, with last year's title seeing him take on a succession of unexpected opponents. And Thiem, the only man to beat Nadal on clay for the last two seasons, set about showing his opponent he meant serious business in his first Grand Glam quarter-final outside of the French Open. The Austrian blasted 13 winners, made only two unforced errors and allowed Nadal just seven points in winning an extraordinary opening set.

It was only the fourth time in his long Grand Slam history that Nadal had lost a set 6-0 and just the third time at any level in nearly seven years. But the last time, against Philipp Kohlschreiber in Miami last spring, he fought back to win the match. 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.

The Spaniard secured the break he wanted for 5-3 only to give it back but a sloppy game from Thiem, who turned 25 on Monday, handed him the set anyway. The momentum was with Nadal but Thiem regrouped in the third set and began to again blast winners into the corners. But, as in the second set, when the time came to keep his foot on Nadal's throat, he instead loosened the pressure and lived to regret it. 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 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 weary Nadal miss a chance to win the match. With Thiem serving at 5-6 30-30, a desperate lunging forehand looked to be easy pickings for Nadal at the net only for the 32-year-old to net it. Thiem held on for the tie-break, where another unexpected Nadal error, this time a short forehand into the net, sent the match into a deciding set.

With the clock ticking towards 1am and transport options dwindling, many fans headed for the exits while the two adversaries battled on. Having looked the more weary of the two, it was Nadal who was applying the greater pressure and at 5-5, 0-40 it seemed this was his chance. But Thiem saved all three break points before denying Nadal a fourth opportunity with a stunning volley at the end of a remarkable point.

That they were still able to produce tennis of such quality was astonishing. 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. The Austrian hung his head before being consoled by Nadal, who then held his arms aloft in celebration and relief.

Related news

Novak Djokovic beats Del Potro to claim 14th Grand Slam title at US Open

Novak Djokovic beats Del Potro to claim 14th Grand Slam title at US Open

Novak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam in succession and 14th in his illustrious career with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open.

Serena Williams furious after huge umpire controversy as Naomi Osaka wins US Open

Serena Williams furious after huge umpire controversy as Naomi Osaka wins US Open

Serena Williams was left furious and in tears after a huge controversy involving a coaching violation as Naomi Osaka won the US Open final 6-2 6-4.

US Open Final Live Stream: How to Watch the final of the last Grand Slam of the year

US Open Final Live Stream: How to Watch the final of the last Grand Slam of the year

The final Grand Slam of the year takes centre stage from the 27th as the US Open begins in New York and bet365 will be Live Streaming the action to selected countries across the world.

Imperious Novak Djokovic cruises past Kei Nishikori to reach US Open final

Imperious Novak Djokovic cruises past Kei Nishikori to reach US Open final

Novak Djokovic breezed past Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-4 6-2 to secure his place in the final of the US Open with consummate ease.

Rafael Nadal forced to retire injured as Juan Martin Del Potro reaches US Open final

Rafael Nadal forced to retire injured as Juan Martin Del Potro reaches US Open final

A distraught Rafael Nadal was forced to retire through injury after trailing 7-6 6-2 as Juan Martin Del Potro progressed through to the US Open final where he will face Novak Djokovic.

Serena Williams smashes through Anastasija Sevastova to make US Open final

Serena Williams smashes through Anastasija Sevastova to make US Open final

Serena Williams swept past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-0 on Thursday and into the final of the U.S. Open to sit one win away from a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title to continue her remarkable return to the top levels of the game.

Naomi Osaka storms past Keys to reach first Grand Slam final

Naomi Osaka storms past Keys to reach first Grand Slam final

Naomi Osaka announced her arrival on the big stage at the U.S. Open on Thursday, beating last year's runner-up Madison Keys 6-2 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final and set up a clash with her childhood idol Serena Williams.

Novak Djokovic beats heat and John Millman to reach semi-finals

Novak Djokovic beats heat and John Millman to reach semi-finals

Novak Djokovic sweated it out from behind the baseline to beat Australian John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4 at the U.S. Open and set up a semi-final with Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Madison Keys into second successive US Open semi after win over Suarez Navarro

Madison Keys into second successive US Open semi after win over Suarez Navarro

American Madison Keys clinched her second consecutive U.S. Open semi-final berth on Wednesday, using her powerful serve to get an edge on 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and win 6-4 6-3.

RELATED NEWS

Novak Djokovic beats Del Potro to claim 14th Grand Slam title at US Open
Novak Djokovic v Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-6 6-3

Novak Djokovic beats Del Potro to claim 14th Grand Slam title at US Open

Novak Djokovic claimed his second Grand Slam in succession and 14th in his illustrious career with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 victory over Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open.

Serena Williams furious after huge umpire controversy as Naomi Osaka wins US Open
Naomi Osaka v Serena Williams 6-2 6-4

Serena Williams furious after huge umpire controversy as Naomi Osaka wins US Open

Serena Williams was left furious and in tears after a huge controversy involving a coaching violation as Naomi Osaka won the US Open final 6-2 6-4.

US Open Final Live Stream: How to Watch the final of the last Grand Slam of the year
US Open Final live stream

US Open Final Live Stream: How to Watch the final of the last Grand Slam of the year

The final Grand Slam of the year takes centre stage from the 27th as the US Open begins in New York and bet365 will be Live Streaming the action to selected countries across the world.

Imperious Novak Djokovic cruises past Kei Nishikori to reach US Open final
Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-4 6-2

Imperious Novak Djokovic cruises past Kei Nishikori to reach US Open final

Novak Djokovic breezed past Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-4 6-2 to secure his place in the final of the US Open with consummate ease.

Rafael Nadal forced to retire injured as Juan Martin Del Potro reaches US Open final
Juan Martin Del Potro v Rafael Nadal 7-6 6-2 R

Rafael Nadal forced to retire injured as Juan Martin Del Potro reaches US Open final

A distraught Rafael Nadal was forced to retire through injury after trailing 7-6 6-2 as Juan Martin Del Potro progressed through to the US Open final where he will face Novak Djokovic.

Serena Williams smashes through Anastasija Sevastova to make US Open final
Serena Williams v Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-0

Serena Williams smashes through Anastasija Sevastova to make US Open final

Serena Williams swept past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-0 on Thursday and into the final of the U.S. Open to sit one win away from a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title to continue her remarkable return to the top levels of the game.

Naomi Osaka storms past Keys to reach first Grand Slam final
Naomi Osaka v Madison Keys 6-2 6-4

Naomi Osaka storms past Keys to reach first Grand Slam final

Naomi Osaka announced her arrival on the big stage at the U.S. Open on Thursday, beating last year's runner-up Madison Keys 6-2 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final and set up a clash with her childhood idol Serena Williams.

Novak Djokovic beats heat and John Millman to reach semi-finals
Novak Djokovic v John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4

Novak Djokovic beats heat and John Millman to reach semi-finals

Novak Djokovic sweated it out from behind the baseline to beat Australian John Millman 6-3 6-4 6-4 at the U.S. Open and set up a semi-final with Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Madison Keys into second successive US Open semi after win over Suarez Navarro
Madison Keys v Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-3

Madison Keys into second successive US Open semi after win over Suarez Navarro

American Madison Keys clinched her second consecutive U.S. Open semi-final berth on Wednesday, using her powerful serve to get an edge on 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and win 6-4 6-3.