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'It was a great battle and the conditions were tough, ' said the Spaniard of another sticky evening.

"It will be a very tough one", Nadal added of his last-four tie. But the first step to change that dynamic is not to find an excuse on the racket or on the string or on something that is not the truth.

Nadal's performance came 24 hours after another of the game's legends took center stage under the lights on Ashe.

Rafael Nadal outlasted Dominic Thiem in an epic five-setter that lasted almost five hours and didn't finish until after 2 a.m. local time. It's a match that we know each other very well.

"It was a very tough start and then I tried to stay in the match in some way in that second set and I did". Within the quarterfinals, the Tandil native defeated American John Isner with a rating of 6:7 (5:7), 6:three, 7:6 (7:four), 6:2.

"Maybe not if the player is inferior to you, but if it he's not inferior, or is of a similar level".

With Thiem serving at 5-6 30-30, a desperate lunging forehand looked to be easy pickings for Nadal only for the 32-year-old to net it.

Each player held serve in the second set until Nadal earned his first break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead.

Rafael Nadal was forced to use every inch of his fighting spirit as he battled past an inspired Dominic Thiem to reach the US Open semi-finals in what was undoubtedly the match of the tournament.

"I don't think he's really sorry", said Thiem with a smile.

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"He's young, he has plenty of time to win big tournaments", he said on court.

"He has a great attitude and is a great fighter". For the match, he hit 74 winners and 18 aces and stole six break points to Nadal's five.

"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. "But there has to be one".

The semi-final will pit Nadal against third seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam tournament. At Wimbledon, Nadal came back from two sets to one down to win in five in a quarter-final which stretched to nearly five hours.

Nadal was completely dismantled by Thiem in the first set as the American crowd was shocked into silence in NY, the Austrian hitting vaporising forehands and backhands to wrap up the opener in just 24 minutes - tallying 13 winners, five aces and 24 points in total compared to just seven from the former.

The top seed won just seven points in the opener.

"I told myself "wake up", said Nadal.

The Spaniard was able to bounce back and win the next two sets 6-4, 7-5, but not without a fight from Thiem.

At 2-1 down, Nadal looked favourite to extend his record against his opponent to 8-3, but Thiem was not to be denied and overcame the disappointment of losing an early break to claim the fourth set in a tiebreaker to square it up at two sets each.

Once ahead, he never relinquished his lead and a tantalising fifth set was on the cards.