Sport

Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

US Open champion Rafael Nadal overcame a rare bagel and a relentless challenge from Dominic Thiem in an epic five-set quarter-final clash lasting nearly five hours in NY. 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.

Nadal recovered from losing the first set without winning a game to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a gruelling four hour and-49-minute epic.

(AAP )Dominic Thiem pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in their US Open quarter final. "He will have his chances in the future without a doubt", Nadal said. "Have been a very tough start for me". And I would say if we skip the first set, (it) was really open match from the beginning to the end.

The victory, which puts the defending champion through to his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, came hours after Williams booked her 12th U.S. Open semifinal and the night after Roger Federer was ousted by the unseeded Australian John Millman in the fourth round.

"I am very sorry for Dominic, he's a close friend on tour, a great guy and a great player".

"He is a very well educated guy and a top person".

"After that first set", Nadal said, "the match became more normal".

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 almost seven years.

The two big men battered each other to near exhaustion in the heat and humidity but it was the third seed who proved the stronger to prevail 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in three-and-a-half hours.

"I'm so happy to reach another semi-finals in my favourite tournament", del Potro said in his on-court interview. Message sent. One point later, Thiem double faulted, only his second of the match, first of the set. It's cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser.

After suffering a first set "bagel", Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013. As usual, he had to do it without the benefit of many cheap points; he hit just three aces, 15 fewer than Thiem.

Breaking Thiem at a crucial juncture, the World No.1 quickly closed out the set but then found himself in trouble early on in the second.

"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. But Nadal, after letting the 25-second serve clock expire, rallied to win the point and hold for a 5-4 lead.

"I just wish him all the very very best". I had the passion to keep going always'. "I'm playing a lot of hours this year at this lovely stadium".


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