Nadal sets up semi-final clash with Del Potro

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Everyone who witnessed it will. The day he was fearless enough to take on the mightiest competitor in the land on his terms. Nadal said of Thiem.

In his 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) win, Nadal left it all on the court, including his shoes.

Nadal won the third set 7-5, and seemed to be on the verge of winning the fourth. Thiem had Nadal on the ropes, breaking him for 4-3 and then easily closing out his next service game.

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.

Thiem nearly cracked serving at 5-5. Nadal had defeated Thiem in the Roland Garros final in June but this was their first meeting away from a clay court.

"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. He drew two more errors from the Austrian's racquet to level the set.

His 56 winners were erased by 59 unforced errors, three times as many as Nadal.

Thiem produced a stunning first-set performance to take the opener without losing a game but fell victim to a Nadal fightback.

Asked about how got through the tense moments, Nadal added: "Suffering is the right word". But there has to be one. The World No.1, for the first time, started the match with such a worst beginning.

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The Spaniard had appeared the more tired of the two but he roused himself for one final effort and emerged victorious when Thiem sent a final smash long after four hours and 49 minutes. The quarterfinal between Nadal and Thiem had night-match classic written all over it, and the Spaniard and the Austrian delivered. But he is still a rarity in the tennis circles, in that he has beaten Nadal twice on clay: in Madrid previous year and Rome this time around.

Nadal edged a tense fifth-set tie-break to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).

Thiem was the enforcer for the most part of the match.

And so, the fightback began, even though it looked tough even for a player of Nadal's calibre.

It was a surreal display from the youngster as he converted all three of his break points and conceded none to the 17-time Grand Slam champion. He defends every point like his life depends on it. "The only truth is that you have to do things better to be able to fight for the point and fight for the match". It was a very tough start for me. "But in 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".

The world number one worked his way back into the match but he was never in control and Thiem served for the third set. "The conditions were tough, humid".

AFTER almost five hours on court, world No.1 Rafael Nadal and rising challenger Dominic Thiem had exhausted their tanks. "But I think he was also not on his top level in the first set - for sure not. I hope that we have many more in the future with a different end". "A question of a little bit of luck at the end". Happy, of course, to be in semi-finals again, it means a lot to me. He played a good match.

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were both tested on their way to the quarter-finals of the US Open. The giant American was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award following the quarter-final to recognise his conduct during the tournament and the warm-up events.

But while Isner was playing before what could count as a home crowd, del Potro got all manner of support throughout, from the blue-and-white flags or soccer jerseys dotting the stands to the repeated singsong chants of his nickname, "Delpo", punctuated by clapping.

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