World No.1 Rafael Nadal played out the longest match of his US Open career as he defeated World No.9 Dominic Thiem 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4-7) 7-6(7-5) to enter the semi-final of the ongoing US Open 2018. The Spaniard, aiming to retain his trophy, was kept busy on court for almost five hours by the Austrian, who was inches away from victory at one point.
After Roger Federer's shocking exit on Tuesday, it very well seemed Nadal will follow his arch-rival out of the tournament. The 17-time Grand Slam champion was stunned early on, as Thiem broke his serve thrice to take home the first set 6-0 in just 24 minutes, becoming just the fourth player to deliver a Bagel (winning a set without conceding a game) against Nadal in Grand Slams. Though, Nadal bounced back in the best way possible, as he broke Thiem's serve twice to win 6-4 in the second set.
The match was equally poised at the midway mark of the third set, with the game at 2-2. But Thiem took the upper hand after breaking the Spaniard's serve, and taking a 5-4 lead. The 25-year-old only needed to win the final game from his own serve, but a couple of errors allowed Nadal to stage yet another comeback. After making it 5-5, the World No.1 won of his own serve, before another service break allowed him to win the set 7-5, and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The remainder of the match saw arguably the best tennis action in this year's edition. In the fourth set, Thiem broke Nadal's serve early to take a 2-1 lead. But the Spaniard fought back, breaking the Austrian's serve in the eighth game to make it 4-4. The two won their respective games and the set went into a tie-break, which was comfortably won 7-4 by Thiem.
Both Nadal and Thiem knew the importance of starting well in the final set. The two superstars managed to save break points off their serves, which meant the enthralling match will be decided via tie-break. But unlike the previous set. Nadal just had a bit more in him, as he won the tie-break 7-5 to clinch the set, as well as the match. He will now face Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-final.