US Open: Nadal sets up a quarterfinal date with Thiem

Nadal was tested for the second match running in New York

Nadal was tested for the second match running in New York

Rafa finally started to play with more aggression in set number three, saving a break point at 2-2 before wasting two game points in game seven and allowing Thiem to break him with a return victor.

Tennis great Rafael Nadal outlasted Dominic Thiem in an epic, grueling five-set quarterfinal, turning around his performance from a disastrous opening set to clinch the match in dramatic style.

In an interview after his titanic battle, the 32-year-old Nadal gave credit to his opponent saying the match was very demanding in all aspects after almost five hours on court.

Nadal will now face Juan Martin del Potro in a repeat of last year's semi-final.

When that emblem of career longevity Serena Williams was asked Tuesday night following her win in the U.S. Open quarterfinals why the desire to win another Grand Slam title burns hotter in her than it did before she took time off to have her daughter, she gave an answer that made tennis fans a bit weepy. "I think he was also not on his top level in the first set, for sure not", Thiem said. But Nadal again broke Thiem to secure the set, letting out a roar in the process. When the ninth-seeded Thiem forced deuce in that game, Nadal rewarded his friend with a small clap from the other end of the court. And, yes, I played against a great opponent. "I guess to keep your cool and be a good sport is very important". Thiem raced to a 3-0 lead before Nadal fought back, but the Austrian held his nerve to level the match.

"Dominic is an exemplary player on the circuit, and when you get to 5-5 in the fifth set, the tie-break is really on the toss of a coin".

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Thiem returned the favor, breaking Nadal again to cut the set to 5-4.

"I could change my return position‚ and this helped me a lot". He hit 19 winners in the fourth set-which was an 81-minute mini-classic all by itself-and won it in a tiebreaker. This set lasted 67 minutes but the real drama was just around the corner in set number four, with 12 break points in total and more than 80 minutes required to be completed!

Twenty-four hours after Roger Federer fell to John Millman, his old rival avoided following him out of the tournament, but only just, completing a 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/5) victory at 2.03am.

The world number one worked his way back into the match but he was never in control and Thiem served for the third set. "He will have his chances in the future without a doubt", Nadal said.

It was the longest match of this year's US Open and Nadal jumped over the net to console 25-year-old Thiem after the victory. But Thiem saved all three break points before denying Nadal a fourth opportunity with a stunning volley at the end of a remarkable point.

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