After dropping the first set, 6-0, in a lackadaisical performance, Nadal fought back throughout the 4-hour 49-minute match to ultimately win, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5).
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, sits during a changeover in his match against Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in NY.
Nadal held serve to win his first game of the match to start the second set and dug deep in a grueling back-and-forth classic to advance to the semifinals, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6.
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.
The Spaniard was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 6-4, 7-5, but not without a fight from Thiem. "He will have his chances in the future without a doubt", Nadal said.
Thiem did not relent, however, and kept hammering away from the baseline to earn a chance to serve for the third set up 5-4.More news: Henrikh Mkhitaryan On Bench - Arsenal Team vs Cardiff City Confirmed
More news: Unai Emery enjoys first win but Arsenal unconvincing against West Ham
More news: Blow to Trump as Cohen admits illegal campaign contributions
When asked about facing Del Potro in the semi-final, Nadal said: He's a great player everywhere. Of course, my level dropped a little bit. And I would say if we skip the first set, it was a really open match from the beginning to the end. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments".
With the great trio of Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic continuing to feature at the back end of the grand slams, the tennis world has been waiting for the next generation to take over - and Thiem put his hand up to be recognised as the most willing of the 25-and-unders. He is a close friend on tour and a great player.
"That's what I was preparing for", Thiem said.
Rafael Nadal, trapped in a nightmare first set against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the US Open, knew where to look for answers.
Thiem made his intentions clear after clinching the opening set 6-0 as he made the Spaniard sweat hard to earn points in the quarter-finals clash.
"I'm happy that I did this for the first time, even if it went the wrong way". But Nadal drew him to net twice more, drawing a backhand error on break point to level the set.
"It has been physically demanding because the conditions have been tough out there, too. I'm playing a lot of hours this year at this attractive stadium". I think we nearly all the time have great matches.