Nadal ‘bagelled’ but survives Thiem test to reach semis

Nikoloz Basilashvili demonstrated great power from the baseline

Nikoloz Basilashvili demonstrated great power from the baseline

Juan Mart'n Del Potro of Argentina celebrates after match point against Borna Coric of Croatia (not pictured) in the fourth round on day seven of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The conditions were tough.

Nadal ran into an inspired opponent for the second match in a row and was put through his paces by Nikoloz Basilashvili before eventually coming through 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. But the last time, against Philipp Kohlschreiber in Miami last spring, he fought back to win the match.

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"I have had three very nice experiences and seven awful experiences", said Thiem, who has made the last-eight at a Slam other than Roland Garros for the first time.

With Thiem serving at 5-6 30-30, a desperate lunging forehand looked to be easy pickings for Nadal only for the 32-year-old to net it. "I played some good ones before, but not that long, not that long against the great guys on the Grand Slam stage".

The 24-year-old Austrian faces the world number one on Tuesday, just three months after he was routed by Nadal in the final at Roland Garros. And I played against a great opponent.

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

Asked about that at his news conference, Thiem said with a chuckle: "Well, I don't think he's really sorry". "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament". "I mean, it's cruel sometimes tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser. But there has to be one".

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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. While Nadal took time to process the blow and figure out a way, it was obvious the lion-hearted fighter will not let Thiem walk away so easily.

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued. "So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games", said Thiem. Nadal then held serve to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the set on Thiem's serve on his third set point.

"I'm so happy to reach another semi-finals in my favourite tournament", del Potro said in his on-court interview.

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

"He has plenty of time to win big tournaments and has everything". I think we nearly all the time have great matches.

The top-ranked Nadal captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June.

"I expect the Austrian to use the tactic of being on top of the baseline to get the first hit in and that allows him to control point".

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