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Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarter-final confrontation to defeat battling ninth seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) and reach the semi-finals for the seventh time.

World number one Nadal saw off a battling Nikoloz Basilashvili, the first Georgian in a fourth round in NY, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.

Rafael Nadal was delighted, relieved - and sorry - after winning one of the great US Open night-session matches against Dominic Thiem.

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.

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

"After that first set", Nadal said, "the match became more normal". But once again Nadal stepped up the level, saved two break points in the game and then went on to claw back to 4-4.

Nadal met the Austrian in the quarter-finals of the United States open, a tournament the Spaniard has won four times. "A question of a little bit of luck at the end".

When it was finally over after 2 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, Nadal and Thiem, clearly exhausted, walked over to each other for a hug, some words and a touching moment of class and sportsmanship at the net. The World No.1, for the first time, started the match with such a worst beginning. "He is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments". He came within two points of victory late in the fourth set before being pushed to a fifth, where he was two points from a loss. And I played against a great opponent.

Thiem told a post-match media conference: "It's going to be stuck in my mind forever". "I think he was also not on his top level in the first set, for sure not", Thiem said.

It was the first still moment in almost five hours of epic, smash-ball, anything-you-can-hit-I-can-hit-harder tennis. That was the first set dropped by del Potro in the tournament.

Nadal evened the match by breaking in the final game of the second set.

At this point, Thiem had to ask for a new pair of shoes and socks because his were waterlogged from sweating so much.

"I played a lot of long and tough matches in my career". He played a good match.

"He will say "this is my opportunity and I'm expected to lose, but I have to go out there guns blazing". But Nadal, after letting the 25-second serve clock expire, rallied to win the point and hold for a 5-4 lead.