Rafael Nadal recovered from a first-set bagel to defeat Dominic Thiem and reach the US Open semi-finals following another late-night classic in NY. It was just the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches that Nadal lost a set 6-0, and the first time he won a match after that poor of a start. The world No 1 and three-time victor at Flushing Meadows came within two points of victory, but Thiem wound up taking the fourth set on a tiebreak.
Nadal edged a tense fifth-set tie-break to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).
"I suffered, that's the right word", said Nadal after playing his longest ever match at the tournament.
"It was a great battle", Nadal said immediately after the match. It was a very tough start for me. Why? "I think because Basilashvili just relaxed, for the first two sets he is too far from the baseline, he is not doing too much with the ball", Wilander said. "I guess to keep your cool and be a good sport is very important".
In an epic encounter that saw both players come up with some brilliant tennis, Nadal called on all his experience as he battled hot and humid conditions to triumph in a deciding set tiebreak after Thiem sent a smash long.
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.
True to form, the defending champion improved significantly in the second set and things went with serve until game eight as Nadal broke for a 5-3 advantage.
"I'm so happy to reach another semi-finals in my favourite tournament", del Potro said in his on-court interview. And, yes, I played against a great opponent. "I mean, it's cruel sometimes tennis, you know, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser".
In the last game of the third set, he ran Thiem from corner to corner before squeezing back-to-back backhand down the line winners and taking the 12th game to deuce. He's a great guy, a close friend who will have many more opportunities to win the big titles.
Nadal recovered from being broken as he served for the second set in the ninth game with an immediate break back to level the contest. "But in a few days I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe this great match".
"It's going to be stuck in my mind forever", Thiem said.
"(I am) sad for him because when [he arrived at] this moment, he did all the things well to win the match.
It looked like the Austrian, a day past his 25th birthday, had cracked at 5-5 in the fifth but he fought back from 0-40 with one of the points of the match coming at deuce when took three overheads away. He faces Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals Friday.
Williams, seeded 17th, meets the last player to beat her at the U.S. Open.