Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarterfinal confrontation to defeat ninth seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) and reach the semifinals for the seventh time.
In a gripping 4-hour 49-minute contest which concluded at 2.04 a.m. on Wednesday, world No 1 Nadal just edged it to keep his bid for a fourth title in New York and 18th Grand Slam crown alive.
The Spanish superstar was however fortunate to triumph on another hot and humid night at Flushing Meadows, 24 hours after Roger Federer had been dumped out of the tournament by John Millman.
After suffering a first set ‘bagel’, Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.
Earlier, Juan Martin del Potro reached the semifinals for the third time, defeating John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 and ending American hopes of a first men’s champion at the event since 2003.
Former champion Del Potro dropped his first set of the tournament against 11th seed Isner, who was playing in his maiden quarterfinal at his home Slam.
Despite that, the 29-year-old was never broken in the 3 hour 31 minute match where Isner unleashed 26 aces but was undone by 52 unforced errors compared to Del Potro’s 14.
In the women’s event, six-time champion Serena Williams shook off a sluggish start to power past eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the semifinals.
Serena, 36, chasing a record-equalling 24th major title, surrendered an early break to Pliskova, but she roared back with a streak of eight straight games to put away the opening set and take a 4-0 lead in the second against the woman who beat her in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows in 2016.