Rafael Nadal nearly needed five hours to win this instant classic

06 September, 2018, 02:34 | Author: Amy Huff
  • US Open Rafael Nadal survives a bagel and stern Dominic Thiem test

Dominic Thiem's US Open quarter-final defeat to Rafael Nadal is one that will stick in his mind "forever".

Rafael Nadal beat Domini Thiem in an epic 4 hours and 49 minute match. ESPN captured that perfectly in a triumphant photo of the 32-year-old. He also has wins over the Austrian at all three of the clay court Masters, including in the final in Madrid a year ago. "I'm happy that I did this for the first time, even if it went the wrong way".

"Against Rafa, I've had three very nice experiences and seven terrible experiences", said Thiem who turned 25 on Monday.

In the first Nadal was all over the place, totally unable to find any rhythm and a set down after just 26 minutes when he won just seven points. "Every match really means a lot to me".

Nadal said that losing the first set by 6-0 was not in his plan but he accepted it with "humility", while in the fifth he had "more options" than Thiem. "Keep going", the victor said of the embrace.

"On clay, I think it´s one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy or to compete with this guy".

The Spaniard saved a break point in games nine and 11 but he stood no chance in the tie break, losing it 7-4 following a routine forehand that he sent into the net, handing the set to his rival and setting up a decider after more than three and a half hours of fantastic battle! I fought until the end.

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"I already played under worse conditions. Forever I'm going to remember this match, for sure", said Thiem after his first ever hard court match against Nadal.

The Spaniard was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 6-4, 7-5, but not without a fight from Thiem. The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, from there it's 50-50.

In an interview after his titanic battle, the 32-year-old Nadal gave credit to his opponent saying the match was very demanding in all aspects after almost five hours on court.

"Tennis is sometimes cruel, this game didn't deserve a loser but there has to be one and, if we skip the first set, we were well matched from start to finish", he noted. And it was the way Nadal won - with power and tireless energy, matching his younger opponent's athleticism and appearing to grow stronger with each monstrous forehand - that told the story of how the two best players in the world have fared in recent months.

While that encounter was settled in straight sets, Thiem was agonisingly close to his first major victory over Nadal on this occasion, and seeing the opportunity slip from his grasp is something that he says will never leave him.

Nadal has played a total of 15 hours, 54 minutes through five matches here. I didn't want to come back out'.

Del Potro's victory was no walk in the park either, the Argentinian battling through strength-sapping heat and humidity to win 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-2. "I did it sometime against him, but it's a risky game style because it can happen that I make too many mistake, and then it looks black".

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