Rafael Nadal beats Thiem, enters US Open semis

Basilashvili won a thrilling third set tiebreak

By defeating Basilashvili, Nadal has reached the quarter-finals of all the grand slams for the first time since 2011.

On the previous three such occasions, he'd lost. Unfortunately one had to win.

Nadal was completely dismantled by Thiem in the first set as the American crowd was shocked into silence in NY, the Austrian hitting vaporising forehands and backhands to wrap up the opener in just 24 minutes - tallying 13 winners, five aces and 24 points in total compared to just seven from the former.

The marathon tussle continued in the fifth and final set, Thiem fending off a triple break point by coming from love-40 down to make Nadal serve to stay in the championship and three-time US Open victor did before prevailing in a do-or-die tie-breaker. It was a question of a little bit of luck at the end.

How tense and tight was this one?

Nadal won just seven points for the entire set, his nine unforced errors handing the set to Thiem on a plate. While both players stand close to the wall to return serve, estranged from the blue interior of the court, Nadal proved more successful coming forward in the middle stages of the match, and more successful at drawing Thiem forward. "But he's a great guy". Message sent. One point later, Thiem double faulted, only his second of the match, first of the set. He may not consider that a good omen, though, given he was beaten in the final in NY that year by Novak Djokovic.

It sure seemed at the shocking outset as if Nadal was somehow unprepared for this step up in competition.

In one of many memorable points, Nadal hit a almost ideal half volley, only to see Thiem beat him with a flawless crosscourt pass. Nadal was sweating so much in the 90-degree heat and 50-percent humidity that a mountain of white towels formed next to his changeover bench. He was visibly upset as Thiem won the game to force a tiebreak.

The depth and strength of Thiem's groundstrokes were doing what Nadal's shots usually do to opponents: robbing them of time and space. Still, this whole contest was filled with challenges for Nadal.

The end of the third set was representative of this dynamic.




Rafael Nadal watched as his opponent hit an overhead beyond the baseline on match point and then dropped his racket to his side.

Thiem was broken serving for the set and then could not hold on for the tie-break, saving two set points but not a third after planting a volley wide with the whole of the court available.

"'Wake up, '" Nadal said he told himself.

He revealed that he'd offered his condolences to ninth seed Thiem at the net, telling him that he was a good player and urging him to keep going.

When Nadal makes it this far in NY, he usually doesn't stumble.

Serena Williams began her U.S. Open quarterfinal tentatively.

"I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old. "It's just very hard to deal with". I like to see that trophy every single day. "The conditions were tough, humid".

Isner, the 11th seed, is attempting to become the first home victor since Andy Roddick in 2003. Still, it was Isner who struck first, closing the opening tiebreaker with a 132 miles per hour (212 kph) ace down the middle.

And while the brutal straight sets thrashing at Roland Garros would've hurt, there was a belief this defeat, especially after his flawless first set, would've stung even more. This time, Thiem broke first in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead.

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