New York: Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarterfinal confrontation to defeat battling ninth seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(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 number one Nadal won through to keep his bid for a fourth title in New York and 18th Grand Slam crown on track.
However, the 32-year-old was 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.
“I suffered, that’s the right word,” said Nadal after playing his longest ever match at the tournament. “I said to Dominic I am sorry. He’s a great guy, a close friend who will have many more opportunities to win the big titles.”
The semifinal will pit Nadal against third seed Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam. Del Potro beat John Isner 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2.
Stephens’ loss completes top 10 seeds’ exodus
World number three Sloane Stephens, refused to blame the punishing afternoon heat and humidity for her lapses against Anastasija Sevastova, including an inability to convert any of seven break chances in the opening set. “When you don’t play big points well, the match can get away from you,” she said. “Mentally, physically, I just wasn’t connecting.” Sevastova herself relies on variety more than power, and she caught a slow-moving Stephens with a number of drop shots and drop shot-lob combinations. The defeats of Stephens and Pliskova completed the exodus of top 10 seeds, although Pliskova noted that Williams’ 17th seeding – nine spots above her world ranking as she continues her post-baby comeback – was not reflective of her true abilities.
Six-time champion Serena eases into semifinals
New York: Six-time champion Serena Williams shook off a sluggish start to power past eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 and into the US Open semifinals. The US superstar, 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.
She finished the match with 13 aces and will take on Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the final after the 19th-seeded Latvian toppled defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3. With a win she would break out of a tie with Chris Evert for most US Open titles, and equal Margaret Court’s all-time record for Grand Slams.