Defending champion Rafael Nadal has made it into the last four of the US Open after battling past Dominic Thiem in a five-set epic. The Spaniard battled back from a sluggish opening set to eventually claim a 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4-7) 7-6(7-5) in four hours and 49 minutes.
Thiem started well, dominating the opener but after Nadal had found his form to move ahead, the Austrian forced a decider with a gutsy win in a tie-break.
The crowd on Arthur Ashe were enthralled by a fifth set where both battled to hold onto their serve and again a tie-break was required.
Two mini-breaks apiece demonstrated the fatigue of both players but eventually Nadal prevailed when Thiem’s overhead smash went long at 2:03am local time.
Immediately after the final shot, the 17-time Grand Slam winner leapt over the net to console his opponent and admitted on court his relief at keeping his dream of a fourth US Open title alive.
“I said to Dominic: ‘I’m very sorry and keep going.’ He has plenty of time to win. He will have his chances in the future without a doubt,” Nadal said.
“Suffering is the right word. It was a great battle.”
Nadal will now face 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, after the Argentine battled past home favourite John Isner 6-7(5-7) 6-3 7-6 6-2.