Rafael Nadal needs 5 sets, almost 5 hours to outlast Dominic Thiem

Basilashvili won a thrilling third set tiebreak

Basilashvili won a thrilling third set tiebreak

Nadal, the defending champion, needed almost five hours to defeat ninth seed Thiem in a deciding tie-break after losing the opening set 6-0. It was in the fifth and final set of the game that the Spaniard showed his prowess and overpowered a rampant Austrian 7-6, advancing to the semi-finals of the US Open.

"A great battle", Nadal told ESPN. "It was a very tough start".

"When you don't play big points well, the match can get away from you", Stephens said.

"What is important about this match is the level of tennis, the dramatic match", Nadal said in his news conference shortly after play ended.

Nadal will face Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-final of the US Open.

He fell behind by a break in the third set before rebounding.

"John is a friend of mine and he deserves to be in the quarters as well", said Del Potro, who has not dropped a set so far in NY.

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But while Isner was playing before what could count as a home crowd, del Potro got all manner of support throughout, from the blue-and-white flags or soccer jerseys dotting the stands to the repeated singsong chants of his nickname, "Delpo", punctuated by clapping. He was ready for battle.

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, sits during a changeover in his match against Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in NY.

Thiem opened his tournament in NY by thrashing Sofia champion Mirza Basic 6-3 6-1 6-4. Nadal and Thiem's epic lands next at 4:49. Thiem faced Kevin Anderson (5) in the fourth round and won in straight sets. Nadal then broke again to take the set 7-5. Though he was eventually able to fight off their challenge, hitting 79 winners across the two matches, their performances will have given Thiem confidence.

Nadal won just seven points for the entire set, his nine unforced errors handing the set to Thiem on a plate. "He will have his chances in the future without a doubt", Nadal said.

Everything was on Thiem's racquet in the opening set, delivering only the fourth bagel in Nadal's Grand Slam career (Andy Roddick at the US Open 2004, Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2006 and Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open 2015) after winning 24 out of 31 points!

At this point, Thiem had to ask for a new pair of shoes and socks because his were waterlogged from sweating so much.

This will be the 11th meeting between these two players but all previous encounters have come on clay so it will be fascinating to see how their games match up on a different surface. 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.

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