Nadal through after five-set thriller

The defending champion needed almost five hours to defeat ninth seed Dominic Thiem in a deciding tie-break after losing the opening set 6-0 and will face Juan Martin del Potro on Friday in a rematch of last year's semi-final.

But the 17-time grand slam champion battled back to win the second and third sets before Thiem came out on top of an 81-minute fourth set to take the match into a nerve-wracking decider.

Thiem entered the quarter-final after he knocked out South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson - the man who lost in the final to Nadal at Flushing Meadows a year ago - in three sets earlier on Sunday.

The Spaniard had appeared the more tired of the two but he roused himself for one final effort and emerged victorious when Thiem sent a final smash long after four hours and 49 minutes.

Rafael Nadal has revealed the secret conversation he had with Dominic Thiem after their US Open match.

"It was a great battle", Nadal said immediately after the match. The conditions were tough.

"I did a very bad set".

He will play Argentine third seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in Friday's semi-finals.

"I'm very sorry for Dominic", Nadal added. "I just wish him all the very, very best".

Thiem made his intentions clear after clinching the opening set 6-0 as he made the Spaniard sweat hard to earn points in the quarter-finals clash.

True to form, the defending champion improved significantly in the second set and things went with serve until game eight as Nadal broke for a 5-3 advantage. And I played against a great opponent.

The easiest way to watch tonight's Rafael Nadal Quarterfinals tennis match online free is by taking advantage of a Sling TV free 7-day trial. "I mean, it's cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser".

Nadal was once again able to recover after going down a break, forcing the set to a tie-breaker.

"He has plenty of time to win big tournaments and has everything". He saved 12 break points, including three while serving at 5-5, 0-40 in the fifth set. But when he came out to serve for the set at 5-4, the Austrian was visibly hesitant, Nadal bounded behind the baseline.

She then dropped her racket and held her hands to her face as a Stephens shot went into the net on the match's final point.

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

But while Isner was playing before what could count as a home crowd, del Potro got all manner of support throughout, from the blue-and-white flags or soccer jerseys dotting the stands to the repeated singsong chants of his nickname, "Delpo", punctuated by clapping. The giant American was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award following the quarter-final to recognise his conduct during the tournament and the warm-up events. He played a good match.

  • Rosalie Stanley