The quarterfinal match, which ended after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, was a rematch of the French Open final, won by Nadal in June.
He didn't cast his eyes toward the support team in his box, or send his racquets out to be restrung.
World #1 Rafael Nadal will look to continue his US Open title-defence when he takes on ninth seed Dominic Thiem, who is competing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal away from the clay and a fourth overall. Was a step forward for me in the dynamic of the tournament.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion clinched victory when Thiem hit an overhead smash long on the first match point, the drama continuing until the last shot in an epic encounter lasting four hours and 49 minutes. It's a match that we know each other very well. "Had been a very tough start for me. I start to be on rhythm and the match became more equal".
"Maybe not if the player is inferior to you, but if it he's not inferior, or is of a similar level".
The 32-year-old Nadal was fortunate to triumph on another hot and humid night at Flushing Meadows, 24 hours after Roger Federer had been dumped out of the tournament by John Millman. In the last game of the third set, he ran Thiem from corner to corner before squeezing back-to-back backhand down the line winners and taking the 12th game to deuce.
'It was a great battle and the conditions were tough, ' said the Spaniard of another sticky evening.
"I just said "I am very sorry".
The fact that Thiem has beaten the "King of Clay" three times on the dirt will give him huge confidence that he has what it takes to win here in what will be their first meeting on a hard court.
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In the women's draw , Anastasija Sevastova advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 win over Elina Svitolina . On Tuesday in the quarterfinals, they will have a rematch. "That's the most important thing to me".
The 24-year-old Austrian faces the world number one on Tuesday, just three months after he was routed by Nadal in the final at Roland Garros. "He's a fighter, he has a great attitude". "It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said. "I mean, it's cruel sometimes tennis, you know, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser. But there has to be one".
In the final set tiebreaker, the two men traded early mini-breaks to get back on serve. But the last time, against Philipp Kohlschreiber in Miami last spring, he fought back to win the match.
The Spaniard will come up against another big-hitter Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis.
'I said to Dominic: "I'm very sorry and keep going". He played a good match. I think we nearly all the time have great matches.
Del Potro admitted the 33-degree temperatures proved a real challenge with the 10-minute heat rule allowing the players a welcome respite after the third set.
Nadal seemed to be on the verge of cracking the code when he broke back in the fourth and came within two points of winning the match.
Isner said he needed to change his shirt 11 times.
But while Isner was playing before what could count as a home crowd, del Potro got all manner of support throughout, from the blue-and-white flags or soccer jerseys dotting the stands to the repeated singsong chants of his nickname, "Delpo", punctuated by clapping.
"I'm sad for him because when this moment arrived, he did all the things well to win the match".