Ben Stiller cheered on Rafael Nadal from player's box during epic match

Saturday, 08 Sep, 2018

Defending champion Rafael Nadal dug deep to win the longest match of this year's US Open in a classic five-set quarter-final against Dominic Thiem - which finished at 2:03am local time.

Ninth seed Thiem became the first player since Andy Roddick in 2004 to win a love set against Nadal in NY but the defending champion once again dug deep to come out on top of a gruelling battle played in more punishing humidity.

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 NY and 18th Grand Slam crown on track.

"It's cruel, sometimes, tennis", Thiem said, calling the loss "the first really epic match I've played".

Thiem, who beat Nadal on clay in Madrid in the run-up to Paris, booked his place in the quarter-finals for the first time with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) win over 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson. "It was a very tough start, I tried to stay in the match in the second set", the Spaniard said on court. The Austrian was up a break in the third set and had a chance to serve it out at 5-4, but wasn't able to convert.

When asked about facing Del Potro in the semi-final, Nadal said: He's a great player everywhere.

Pliskova offered this guess about what was happening to Williams: "Maybe she was a little bit nervous".

"What is important about this match is the level of tennis, the dramatic match", Nadal said. And I would say if we skip the first set, (it) was really open match from the beginning to the end. While Thiem clearly made the big winners, Nadal just knew when to raise his level by just a solitary notch, that awarded him the win. The ninth, however, proved costly: On Nadal's first match point, at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, Thiem misjudged an overhead smash, sending it into the back wall to end the match at 2:03 a.m. on Wednesday. And I played against a great opponent.

Rusedski is also adamant that Thiem has to show a lot of belief if he's going to overcome the world No 1. He's a fighter. He has a great attitude.

After almost five hours on a humid court, he knew it would be a hard loss for whichever one of them was eliminated, and he continued to express his sympathy for Thiem.

There were no breaks of serve in the deciding set and a second tiebreak ensued.

Stiller felt the intensity of the match and was often seen displaying the kind of nerves he had while taking his lie detector test in "Meet the Parents". I don't want to lose against anybody. Del Potro, who has been the most dominant men's player this year, will have to go full throttle if he has to release Nadal's stranglehold over him.