Nadal downs Thiem in epic tie

MAJESTIC: Spain's Rafael Nadal is relieved after winning a marathon quarterfinal tie against Dominic Thiem of Austria in New York on Wednesday AFP

Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarterfinal confrontation to defeat battling ninth seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) and reach the semifinals for the seventh time.

In a gripping four-hour 49-minute contest, the world number one Nadal won through to keep his bid for a fourth title in New York and 18th Grand Slam crown on track.

However, the 32-year-old was fortunate to triumph on another hot and humid night at Flushing Meadows, 24 hours after Roger Federer was dumped out of the tournament by John Millman.

After suffering a first set 'bagel', Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.

"I suffered, that's the right word," said Nadal after playing his longest ever match at the tournament.

"I said to Dominic I am sorry. He's a great guy, a close friend who will have many more opportunities to win the big titles."

Nadal had defeated Thiem in the Roland Garros final in June but this was their first meeting away from a clay court.

"He has a great attitude and is a great fighter," added Nadal.

In a dramatic final set, Nadal saw five break points come and go before Thiem went long with a smash on the first match point.

It was his 58th unforced error on a night when he sent down 18 aces and fired 74 winners.

The semifinal will pit Nadal against third seed Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam.

At Wimbledon, Nadal came back from two sets to one down to win in five in a quarterfinal which stretched to almost five hours.

Thiem broke three times in a 24-minute first set on Tuesday, handing Nadal just his third 'bagel' at a Grand Slam.

The top seed won just seven points in the opener.

"I told myself 'wake up'," said Nadal.

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.

Thiem then grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third which he stretched to 5-3 but then it was his turn to crack as Nadal raced away with three games to claim a two sets to one lead.

Thiem was 4-2 ahead in the fourth set before he was again reeled in and he was two points from defeat in the 12th game.

But he took the tiebreaker before Nadal just proved the steadier of the two in the final set decider.

Del Potro reached the semifinals for the third time, defeating John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2."

Serena through 

Six-time champion Serena Williams shook off a sluggish start to power past eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3.

The US superstar, chasing a record-equalling 24th major title, surrendered an early break to Pliskova, but she roared back with a streak of eight straight games to put away the opening set and take a 4-0 lead in the second against the woman who beat her in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows in 2016.

"I just wanted to play better," Serena said of her mindset as she trailed 3-1 in the first on Tuesday.

"I was thinking, you know, I can play better, so that was the good news."

Anastasija Sevastova, the 19th-seed from Latvia, toppled defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3.

Results: Prefix denotes seedings: Quarterfinals: Men: 1-Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt 9-Dominic Thiem (AUT) 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5); 3-Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) bt 11-John Isner (USA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

Women: 17-Serena Williams (USA) bt 8-Karolína Plísková (CZE) 6-4, 6-3; 19-Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) bt 3-Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-2, 6-3.

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Nadal downs Thiem in epic tie

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