By Ros Satar

  • Rafael Nadal [1] def. Dominic Thiem [9] 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro [3] def. John Isner [11] 6-7(5) 6-3 7-66(4) 6-2
NEW YORK, USA – Rafael Nadal stole the headlines with a win over Dominic Thiem in the early hours of the morning, and earlier in the day Juan Martin Del Potro halted John Isner’s charge.

 

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Rafael Nadal [1] def. Dominic Thiem [9] 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5)

World No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal weathered his toughest match to date, and possibly the men’s match of the tournament, as he outlasted Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in a late-finishing five-set thriller.

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It was a stunning start from the Austrian as he ripped through the first set breaking Nadal in the first game, and maintaining that trend to close out a first set ‘bagel. Nadal had o rouse himself in a more competitive looking second set, taking an advantage towards the end of the set, with Thiem breaking back, before Nadal repaid the favour once more to level the match.

In another night of oppressive heat and humidity, Nadal fended off a break point in the third set before Thiem got his reward, converting on his second chance for a lead in the third set. Nadal fought hard to redress the balance at 5-5 and came through a tough final game to take a 2-1 lead on his third set point.

For so long in the match, Thiem represented a clear and present danger, again taking the initiative in the fourth set for an early lead, as the pair flirted with break points before Nadal broke him back again as they fought towards a tie-break.

Thiem got an immediate mini-break, and with another at the end of the tie-break, it was enough of a cushion to protect him from Nadal getting one of the mini-breaks back, as he levelled the match at 2-2.

No quarter was given from the first five games as both men comfortably held, before Nadal put pressure on the Austrian but failed to convert on his chances. He had another chance at the end of the set, but with Thiem deflecting three more break point chances, it was down to a final set tie-break.

The pair traded a couple of mini-breaks as they stayed toe-to-toe. The first match point went to Nadal, and he broke Thiem to close out a four hour, 49 minute marathon.

Nadal said, after the match: “Very demanding in all aspects. Have been a very tough start for me. After that first set, then the match became more normal. Tough match against a great opponent.

“Yeah, have been physical demanding because the conditions have been tough out there, too. Not crazy, but tough. And, yes, I played against a great opponent. He played a good match. Sorry for him, yeah. He’s a top guy, being honest. He’s one of the best guys on tour. He always plays and practice with a great attitude.

“Sad for him because when arrive this moment, he did all the things well to win the match. Me, too, I think. I fighted until the end. Yeah, was question of little bit of luck at the end, and was for me. Happy, of course, to be in semi-finals again means a lot to me. Is good to have now two days that probably give me the chance to be on my 100% in the semi-finals.”

 

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Juan Martin Del Potro [3] def. John Isner [11] 6-7(5) 6-3 7-66(4) 6-2

Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final of Roland Garros, 2018

Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-final of Roland Garros, 2018 | ( CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

In a match with a barrage of big serving, 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro showed why he should still be considered a major threat for the title. Playing in the stifling heat of the day, Del Potro outlasted the USA’s last male hope in the singles, John Isner.

Already playing perhaps the tennis of his career, Isner was looking to follow up his first Masters title and an appearance at a first Wimbledon semi-final with a shot at making his first US Open semi-final, and with the first set going predictably to a tie-break and ultimately going the American’s way.

The fight was on, as Del Potro struck with the only break of the second set, as he pulled the deficit back to level the match. As he gruelling conditions continued, the third set tested the pair, as nether could convert on their break point chances. The tie-break saw Juan Martin Del Potro grab a lead, accompanied by boisterous Argentinan support up in the suites. Even though Isner struck back with a mini-break of his own it was not enough to stop Del Potro from grabbing the lead in the match, ahead of the 10-minute heat rule break.

Isner looked spent, as Del Potro struck first for a 3-0 lead and it was more than enough to keep the American at bay, with the final blow being a break for a spot in the semi-final.

After the match, he said: “I think I played very solid this game. In particular I made good returns every service games. I had a lot of chances to break. I did couple of times during the game. I think I play on a smart game today. I saw John a little bit tired also. That’s give me a little bit more energy to keep trying.

“I played a good match. I don’t know if I’m playing my best tennis ever, but I’m feeling good. I reach another semi-finals in this Grand Slam, which means something big to me. I’m very happy for that.

“It’s tricky conditions for the players, for the fans, for my friends who drinks beers (smiling). They have a dangerous conditions. But they having fun. I think they are respectful watching this event. They create a good atmosphere for the fans, too.

“I think it’s not easy to play under this weather, but it’s the same thing for all players. You have to deal with the preparation and the heat. But I did little bit better than John, and now I have enough time to recover myself.”

The US Open’s semi-finals will be played on Friday.

 

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