ESPN captures epic shot of Rafael Nadal after marathon match
10 September, 2018, 18:57 | Author: Amy Huff
Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Dominic Thiem during the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament on September 5, 2018, in NY.
The defending champion needed almost five hours to defeat ninth seed Dominic Thiem in a deciding tie-break after losing the opening set 6-0 and will face Juan Martin del Potro on Friday in a rematch of last year's semi-final.
Nadal had a horror start to the match, with Thiem racing through the first set 6-0 in 23 minutes, just the second time in his US Open career that the Spaniard has lost a set 6-0.
The two had battled it out for the French Open title earlier this year, but that match at Rolland Garros was a damp squib compared to this one for on the crimson surface, Nadal steamrolled his opponent in straight sets.
"To be honest, I am very, very sorry for Dominic", he added.
Most players would have been left deflated after falling behind in such a manner but Thiem was not in that category - the former world number four raising his game another level to take out the tie-break, having surrendered 3-1 and 4-2 leads against Nadal, who saved six break points in the set.
Del Potro will no doubt head into that match with real confidence after seeing Thiem's success in hitting through the three-time victor, while the amount of time spent on court can't be helping Nadal's troublesome knee.
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. Had Federer won that match and Nadal won tonight, the two would have met in the Semifinals.
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When the match was finished, Nadal hopped over the net and embraced his good friend Thiem.
"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. "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 cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser. But there has to be one. Message sent. One point later, Thiem double faulted, only his second of the match, first of the set.
A tense fifth followed, with Thiem keeping his nerve remarkably to hold from 0-40 down at 5-5 but he eventually cracked in the breaker as Nadal pulled off a famous victory. As usual, he had to do it without the benefit of many cheap points; he hit just three aces, 15 fewer than Thiem.
He paid tribute to the crowd, which kept up their vocal support of the three-time US Open champion despite the hours stretching into the early NY morning.
"Thank you very much everybody for staying here tonight", Nadal said after the four hour, 49 minute marathon.
"It's been an awesome feeling". He's a great guy.
That, Nadal would say afterward, managed to "break my heart".
He faces Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals Friday. I like to see that trophy every single day.
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