'I'm very sorry': Nadal's classy words for shattered Thiem

'I'm very sorry': Nadal's classy words for shattered Thiem

'I'm very sorry': Nadal's classy words for shattered Thiem

The 2009 champion won 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 and will face top-ranked Rafael Nadal or No. 9 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals.

With Thiem serving at 5-6 30-30, a desperate lunging forehand looked to be easy pickings for Nadal at the net only for the 32-year-old to net it.

Nadal beat del Potro last year in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, and again this year in the semifinals of the French Open.

Nadal's ability to look only forward and forget what went before is one of his most important strengths and he set about turning around the match, closing in on the baseline, forcing Thiem to play one more ball and, eventually, to go for too much. "I just wish him all the very, very best". That win should build confidence for Thiem as he takes on the tournament's number one ranked player.

The Nadal who was gassed and wearing a cooling vest during breaks in the first set was no more.

"It's been a great battle", an exhausted Nadal said of the four hour 49 minute epic.

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

Del Potro dropped his first set of the tournament against 11th seed Isner, who was playing in his maiden quarter-final at his home Slam.

He said: "I have my trophy at home". Nadal then held serve to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the set on Thiem's serve on his third set point.

The marathon tussle continued in the fifth and final set, Thiem fending off a triple break point by coming from love-40 down to make Nadal serve to stay in the championship and three-time U.S. Open victor did before prevailing in a do-or-die tie-breaker.

The momentum was with Nadal but Thiem regrouped in the third set and began to again blast winners into the corners.

"I'm going to remember this match, for sure". But there has to be one.

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

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.

Thiem handed Nadal, against whom he lost in the Roland Garros final in June, just his fourth ever "bagel" set at the Slams.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are heading to a fifth set in their U.S. Open quarterfinal. When the ninth-seeded Thiem forced deuce in that game, Nadal rewarded his friend with a small clap from the other end of the court.

"Being honest I am just very, very sorry for Dominic". He's a great guy, a great player. I don't want to lose against anybody. "I hope that we have many more in the future with a different end".

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