Nadal 'bagelled' but survives Thiem test to reach semis

Iron man Dominic Thiem celebrates after beating Kevin Anderson

Top seed Rafael Nadal has been pushed all the way in his US Open quarter final, needing five sets and almost five hours to overcome Austria's Dominic Thiem, in a match that finished after 2am NY time.

The reigning US Open champion will meet another veteran, the Argentine 2009 victor Juan Martin del Potro, in the next round. Nadal held serve to win his first game of the match to start the second set and dug deep in a grueling back-and-forth classic to advance to the semifinals, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.

On the men's side, defending champion Rafael Nadal faces Dominic Thiem at night in a rematch of Nadal's French Open victory, and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro plays John Isner in the other quarterfinal.

Tuesday's first set between No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 9 Dominic Thiem was a stunner.

Twenty-four hours after Roger Federer fell to John Millman, his old rival avoided following him out of the tournament, but only just, completing a 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/5) victory at 2.03am USA time.

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Nadal has reached at least the quarter-finals in all four Grand Slams this year - the first time he has achieved the feat since 2011. The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, there it's 50/50.

Nadal seemed to be on the verge of cracking the code when he broke back in the fourth and came within two points of winning the match. And I played against a great opponent. "I like this feeling, but at the same time you feel exhausted after that", Nadal said.

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.

"Being honest I am just very, very sorry for Dominic. 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".

"He is young. He has plenty of time to win big tournaments", Nadal said. "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.

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He saved 12 break points, including three while serving at 5-5, 0-40 in the fifth set.

The Austrian was heartbroken but proud, saying: "It's going to be stuck in my mind forever".

The final result was 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6 (4) -7 and 7-6 (5) in 4 hours and 49 minutes, which is the longest match of this edition of the tournament.

Thiem handed Nadal, against whom he lost in the Roland Garros final in June, just his fourth ever "bagel" set at the Slams. I didn't expect to receive a trophy after losing in the quarter-finals. As usual, he had to do it without the benefit of many cheap points; he hit just three aces, 15 fewer than Thiem.

Even the tiebreak was close, with Nadal edging ahead for 6-5 before the Austrian sent a ball sailing long to wrap up a long evening of brutal hitting.

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