Nadal survives late-night marathon to progress

05 September, 2018, 11:41 | Author: Virgil Todd
  • Kevin Anderson outlasts Denis Shapovalov to reach US Open fourth round

The match, which carried on until after 2 a.m. before ending 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5), was Nadal's longest at the US Open. This was the longest match Rafael Nadal has ever played in NY and he was forced to give his best after a slow start and overpower a great rival who finally produced super quality tennis outside clay and proved his position in the Top 10.

Dominic Thiem said his epic defeat to close friend Rafael Nadal in the US Open quarter-finals will "stay with me forever". Also, the Spaniard is now 45-3 this season, making it one of his best starts of the year and giving him a clear lead over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the ATP Race list. The quarterfinal exit marks the deepest run Thiem has made at a major other than Roland Garros.

It was his 58th unforced error on a night when he sent down 18 aces and fired 74 winners.

Thiem took a 5-4 lead before Nadal won both service points to set up his first match point.

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. "Keep going always, you can a little bit more, and that's the only reason I can be where I am today". The fourth 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 tired Nadal miss a chance to win the match. Nadal was unable to break the rival's rhythm and he found himself 5-0 down after just 20 minutes following another break from Thiem in game five.

"If we skip the first set, it was a really open match from beginning to the end".

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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.

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 two were neck-in-neck at 5-5 when Nadal carved out a match point with his forehand. 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! But Thiem saved all three break points before denying Nadal a fourth opportunity with a stunning volley at the end of a remarkable point.

Dominic fends off a couple of break points in game six to remain in front but he wasted a game point at 4-3 to lose serve after a big backhand error, letting Rafa level the score at 4-4. Nadal failed to serve out the set at 5-3, then promptly broke Thiem's serve for the second straight time to even the match.

The opening set was only the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches that Nadal lost a set 6-0 and this was the first time he had been victorious after doing so.

The conclusion to the near five-hour quarter-final, which ended after 2am local time, came in a tie-break.

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