Ninth seed Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in NY but the defending champion once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity.
It was a 4:49 marathon that wasn't decided until Nadal secured a 7-5 tiebreak in the fifth set that left both players exhausted, but only one satisfied.
NEW YORK-"It's going to be stuck in my mind forever", Dominic Thiem said when his epic, five-set quarterfinal loss to Rafael Nadal was over.
Under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Nadal and Thiem delivered the NY crowd another memorable marathon, this time for a spot in the US Open semifinals.
Remarkably, Thiem was the first top-20 player Nadal has faced at Flushing Meadows since his final win over Novak Djokovic in 2013.
It was a gruelling and see-sawing battle in the third but Nadal continued his comeback to take a two-sets-to-one lead, having been down a break at 5-4.More news: Elon Musk And Joe Rogan Smoke Marijuana During Live Podcast Interview
AFTER almost five hours on court, world No.1 Rafael Nadal and rising challenger Dominic Thiem had exhausted their tanks. The fourth was an 81-minute rollercoaster ride, where Nadal came within two points of winning only for Thiem to take the tie-break.
Nadal, the No. 1 seed and defending U.S. Open champion was completely gassed in a dominant 6-0 first-set sweep for Thiem. He's a great guy.
He said: "I have my trophy at home". The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, there it's 50/50. He is a fighter with a great attitude so that is the most important thing.
"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments". "A question of a little bit of luck at the end".
The fourth was another evenly matched affair, Thiem threatening the Nadal serve in game five before snatching a break two games later. I had the passion to keep going always'.
"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.
Thiem handed Nadal, against whom he lost in the Roland Garros final in June, just his fourth ever "bagel" set at the Slams. Del Potro, who has been the most dominant men's player this year, will have to go full throttle if he has to release Nadal's stranglehold over him. But Nadal, after letting the 25-second serve clock expire, rallied to win the point and hold for a 5-4 lead. Defending champion Stephens is up first on Arthur Ashe Stadium, facing No. 19 seed Anastasija Sevastova in a rematch of Stephens' three-set victory in the same round at Flushing Meadows previous year.