‘This Was Epic’: Twitter Hails Nadal vs Thiem Clash in US Open

Finishing just after 2 a.m local time, the defending champion saw off his younger Austrian opponent 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in what was his longest match at the US Open.

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's cruel, sometimes, tennis", Thiem said, calling the loss "the first really epic match I've played".

The world number one was remarkably bageled in the opening set, but recovered to win 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5).

The Spaniard was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 6-4, 7-5, but not without a fight from Thiem.

"Thank you very much everybody for staying here tonight", Nadal said after the four hour, 49 minute marathon. Nadal then held serve to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the set on Thiem's serve on his third set point.

"Very demanding, in all aspects", said Nadal, who will face 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro on Friday for a berth in the final. It was a question of a little bit of luck at the end. "Not insane, but tough", Nadal said. And I played against a great opponent.

Nadal was hitting the ball with intent, making Thiem go close to the lines and corners.

He overcame the Argentine at the same stage at Flushing Meadows last year before doing so in the last four at this year's French Open and then winning a five-set encounter in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

"That's definitely the most important thing going on right now in my life, more important than this tournament", he said, after defeating Milos Raonic.

"I don't think he's really sorry", said Thiem with a smile. In fact, Nadal never faced match point, and Thiem faced only one all night. But the challenge of playing him on hard of course is even higher for me personally than playing against him on clay.

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.

It was the first still moment in almost five hours of epic, smash-ball, anything-you-can-hit-I-can-hit-harder tennis.

"He will say "this is my opportunity and I'm expected to lose, but I have to go out there guns blazing".

Though the match was played in the night session, allowing Nadal and Thiem to avoid the searing daytime temperatures that have had a significant impact on the tournament, the ninth seed still felt the conditions played their part.

Del Potro's victory was no walk in the park either, the Argentinian battling through strength-sapping heat and humidity to win 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-2.

  • Angelo Rivera