Defending champion Rafa Nadal failed to win a single game in the opening set of his U.S. Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday but fought back to beat the Austrian 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(5) in a match that ended after 2 a.m. in New York.
Nadal won 40 percent of his first serves in the opener as he struggled with the high humidity on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, with Thiem becoming the first player to ‘bagel’ the Spaniard at Flushing Meadows since Andy Roddick 14 years ago.
“It’s been a great battle,” an exhausted Nadal said. “The conditions were tough, very humid for me.”
Thiem, who lost to Nadal in the French Open final but had beaten the Spaniard three times in 10 previous meetings, struck 74 winners, including 24 with his stylish single-handed backhand, to keep the champion under constant pressure.
“I’m very sorry for Dominic,” Nadal added. “He’s a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best … He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments.”