Argentinian wins in four sets as Nadal battles to defeat Thiem US Open classic

Juan Martin Del Potro battled through on Tuesday at the US Open to send John Isner back home to his expectant wife with a 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2 win for a semi-final spot at the Grand Slam he won nine years ago, as Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem battled through an epic five-setter that finished at 2.04am in New York with Nadal the eventual winner.

But during a 10-minute heat pause at the end of a the third set, the Argentine who was allowed along with his opponent back to the locker room for a brief break confessed he found it tough to return to the court and play on in 37 Celsius conditions.

 “I had a shower, lay on the table and I didn’t want to come back again – it was too hot for tennis.”

The epic lasted for three and a half hour in temps so toasty that junior matches around the ground were interrupted for well over two hours.

The battle of big men suffered, with Isner changing shirts 11 times at his seat:  “I weigh a lot and I sweat a lot. It takes its toll on bigger guys. I can tell you I lost a lot of weight out there.”

Isner ‘s 26-ace performance set a record as the first American to get this far at home since Andy Roddick in 2006.

Del Potro entered the New York semis for a third time; he beat Roger Federer for his lone Grand Slam title here in 2009.

“I played very solid this game, in particular I had good returns every service game,” the 29-year-old South American said, “I saw John a little bit tired also. That’s give me a little bit more energy to keep trying.

“It was like an epic match. We both felt tired in the end, we both fight the whole match. I think I survive with my serve in the important moments in the match.”

“To reach another semi-finals in this Grand Slam, which means something big to me.”

For Nadal, it was an uphill fight from the start, with Thiem in dominant form early in the game, winning the first set 6-0.

Yes, 6-0. But the Spaniard fought back to grab the second 6-4 and won the third 7-5.

That was when Thiem decided he was not going home early, winning a dramatic fourth set 7-6 in a tiebreak before the pair squared off in the fifth, way past midnight, to decide who would take the semifinal spot on offer.

That honour fell to Nadal, winning 7-6, in four hours and 49 minutes, a game reminiscent of Andre Agassi’s classic match against James Blake in 2005.

Nadal will now meet Del Potro in the semifinals.

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