'It was a great battle and the conditions were tough, ' said the Spaniard of another sticky evening.
"It wasn't easy, obviously, I think one thing she did well was change her strategy and started doing just a completely different game and gave me a different look to her game", explained Serena, who laid down 18 aces. Even the 11-time French Open champ himself has said he believes Thiem will win titles at Roland Garros and, if Tuesday night was any indication, that's only the beginning.
"He has a great attitude and is a great fighter".
The longest match of the US Open so far saw top seed Nadal comprehensively beaten in the opening set, before showing all his enormous reserves of fight and spirit to knock out the ninth seed.
The victory, which puts the defending champion through to his third consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, came hours after Williams booked her 12th U.S. Open semifinal and the night after Roger Federer was ousted by the unseeded Australian John Millman in the fourth round. While both players stand close to the wall to return serve, estranged from the blue interior of the court, Nadal proved more successful coming forward in the middle stages of the match, and more successful at drawing Thiem forward. He has now won seven U.S. Open quarterfinals in a row when he's made it that far; his only loss in that round came back in 2006. "After that first set, then the match became more normal", said Nadal.
Nadal could easily have wrapped it up in the fourth set and missed five break points in the decider, but found a way to take one last opportunity against Thiem and his flowing single handed backhand.
Nadal had said he was sorry to defeat to Thiem, who joked: "I don't think he's really sorry".
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"It's going to be stuck in my mind forever..."
Thiem also remains the only member of the top 10 that Nadal has never tackled on a hard court.
"Tennis is sometimes cruel, this game didn't deserve a loser but there has to be one and, if we skip the first set, we were well matched from start to finish", he noted. The way it ended up in the fifth set tiebreaker, there it's 50/50. That's one more today.
Thiem blasted 13 winners, made only two unforced errors and allowed Nadal just seven points in winning an extraordinary opener.
It was only the fourth time in his long Grand Slam history that Nadal had lost a set 6-0 and just the third time at any level in almost seven years. And, yes, I played against a great opponent. "I don't think he's really sorry", said the 25-year-old. "I'm playing a lot of hours this year at this handsome stadium". "I am sorry for him, but I am sure he will have his chances in the future, without a doubt".
"We fought the whole match and I survived with my serve which was key". "Me, too. I fought until the end".
Nadal will now meet Argentine and world number three Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals, but the 32-year-old revealed the conversation he had with his Austrian opponent Thiem.