US OPEN, New York
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Dominic Thiem (AUT)
It was the longest match in the history of the US Open (4:49), and how fitting that it involved two great warriors. We all know what Nadal is made of, it seems as if he has been involved in more epic five set battles that any other top ten player on the tour and last night, Thiem showed us that he was made of similar stuff.
Last night Nadal had his hands full against an opponent that has pushed him on clay and even beaten him on clay. Although Nadal led their head-to-head 7-3, they have been involved in some amazing battles on their favorite surface, clay.This was their first meeting on hard court and while many may have thought that this would be an easy victory for Nadal, I knew better. Thiem is just as much a warrior as Nadal and he has been working hard to improve his hard court game. He proved that he has made tremendous strides in the right direction when he dispatched of last year’s finalist, Kevin Anderson. Thiem had lost all six previous meetings on hard court; while that may have seemed as if Anderson had a dominant record, three of those matches went the distance and included at least two tiebreak sets.
Thiem was on the cusp, he just needed to trust in his game and his fitness and that is exactly what he did on Sunday. Thiem never gave Anderson any breathing space and he kept attacking the South African until he succumbed. This time it was Thiem who won in straight sets; thus, I knew that Nadal would have another battle on his hands.
In spite of what many believe, Nadal is not as good on the hard surfaces as he is on clay; he struggles to keep the depth on his shots and if you can hit big, you can make him suffer. It is a testament of his greatness that he has won so many titles on the surface when many had considered him “just a clay court player” when he first came on tour. Yet, one thing you can count of Nadal for, no matter the surface, he will fight to the bitter end and that is exactly what he had to do last night.
Did anyone foresee such a dramatic match? I did not, I expected a tight match; however, I thought Nadal would win in four sets. I certainly did not see him losing the first set 0-6, which tells us just how good Thiem is and can be once he makes a few minor adjustments. Nadal won 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5); however, it was on sheer guts and determination. It was the longest match in the history of the US Open and despite the fact that one player had to lose, I am sorry Thiem lost after such a valiant effort, I must admit that I pleased that Nadal won; he continues to defy the odds even at this age, proving his warrior mentality and his passion for the sport.
Yet, history aside; how much did this take out of the defending champion? He had a four-hour plus battle against Karen Khachanov in the third round and a three-hour plus battle against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the fourth round. It does not get any easier for him because he will face Juan Martin Del Potro, another formidable foe in the semifinals.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: serveandrally original