And Thiem, the only man to beat Nadal on clay for the last two seasons, set about showing his opponent he meant serious business in his first Grand Glam quarter-final outside of the French Open.
Nadal had to work hard for the third set, which he won 7-5, but saw the game tied to 2-2 after losing the fourth set 7-6 to Dominic Thiem. So when you are back, you always appreciate the things that happen. It's a match that we know each other very well. "The conditions were tough and very humid", he said.
In his 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) win, Nadal left it all on the court, including his shoes. "But in a few days I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe this great match".
Nadal met the Austrian in the quarter-finals of the United States open, a tournament the Spaniard has won four times.
"I am very sorry for Dominic, he's a close friend on tour, a great guy and a great player".
"He has a great attitude and is a great fighter", added Nadal.
Rafa finally started to play with more aggression in set number three, saving a break point at 2-2 before wasting two game points in game seven and allowing Thiem to break him with a return victor.
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It was his 58th unforced error on a night when he sent down 18 aces and fired 74 winners.
"When Thiem has beaten Rafa, he's taken the serve early", Rusedski said on Amazon's Prime coverage when giving his thoughts before the match. This sport is tough, so it's so easy to get very frustrated out there on the court when things aren't going your way.
"This match didn't deserve a loser, but there has to be one". "But there has to be one".
Nadal mounted an impressive comeback, winning the next two sets as he got to grips with the Austrian's power.
The top seed won just seven points in the opener. "He will have his chances in the future without a doubt", Nadal said.
There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.
The world number one worked his way back into the match but he was never in control and Thiem served for the third set. The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, from there it's 50-50.
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The 33-year-old Isner is the tournament leader in aces and was nailing them against Raonic with 140 miles per hour serves.
"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments".
"To play John in these kind of matches, it's like an epic". I don't want to lose against anybody.
Isner said he needed to change his shirt 11 times.
"He's maybe playing some of the best tennis ever right now for him", said the American.
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