Nadal's lovely act of sportsmanship after 'match of the year'

Nadal's lovely act of sportsmanship after 'match of the year'

Nadal's lovely act of sportsmanship after 'match of the year'

The defending champion and No. 1 seed at Flushing Meadows recovered from his disastrous start and other stumbles along the way to beat No. 9 Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) for a semifinal berth at a third consecutive Grand Slam tournament, winning a physical, back-and-forth tussle that concluded after 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal was delighted, relieved - and sorry - after winning one of the great US Open night-session matches against Dominic Thiem. "It was a real battle". For me it was...

"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments, and he has everything, no?"

The Austrian was heartbroken but proud, saying: "It's going to be stuck in my mind forever".

There are no chill Rafael Nadal matches, like oh cool, I'll watch some tennis and my blood pressure will stay level.

"I could have s*** the bed [lost] in the first round, and that would have been really bad", said Stephens, who is projected to drop five spots to eighth in the world rankings. "But in some way, being honest, I had a very tough injury in 2005".

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. It was only the third time in the Open era that a men's No. 1 seed won a match after being bageled in the opening set.

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"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".

Nadal had a horror start to the match, with Thiem racing through the first set 6-0 in 23 minutes, just the second time in his US Open career that the Spaniard has lost a set 6-0. "I hope that we have many more in the future with a different end". "The only thing which was uncomfortable was the sweating I couldn't run any more in the fourth set because the shoes were completely wet", Thiem said.

"He's maybe playing some of the best tennis ever right now for him", said the American. "But I don't play dropshots when I see the player struggling or bending over, no", Sevastova said.

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.

When it ended, on an overhead by Thiem that sailed long, Nadal walked around the net to hug his opponent and whisper words of encouragement. Thiem's power off both flanks is what had ultimately undone Nadal on clay on those two occasions and seemed like it would prevail in their first hard-court meeting on Tuesday evening as the Austrian stormed to 6-0 in the opening set in mere 24 minutes. I think we nearly all the time have great matches. "He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best". I told him I was sorry and that he is good, he is a fighter.

Nadal will face 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro next, with the 2009 champion having outslugged John Isner 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-6 (4-7), 6-2 to reach the last four.

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