Fifth seed Kevin Anderson came through a second marathon match at this year's U.S. Open on Friday, defeating flamboyant Canadian Denis Shapovalov 4-6 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-4 to set up a fourth-round clash with Austria's Dominic Thiem.
In a dramatic final set, Nadal saw five break points come and go before Thiem went long with a smash on the first match point.
Both the men's and women's singles defending champions are through to the last-eight of the US Open grand slam. He's a great guy.
Remarkably, Thiem was the first top-20 player Nadal has faced at Flushing Meadows since his final win over Novak Djokovic in 2013, with last year's title seeing him take on a succession of unexpected opponents.
Nadal has beaten Thiem three times at the French Open and seven times in 10 meetings - all on clay.
"He did what I expected though - he serves really well and he is so lively from the back of the court".
"(There's) obviously still a lot of very big tournaments for us throughout the rest of the year.
The ninth-seeded Austrian s three other appearances in the last-eight of a Slam have all been on the clay of Roland Garros in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Thiem, not Anderson, dominated on serve, winning 91 percent of his first-serve points (41/45) and never facing a break point.
While at Wimbledon there was a pic of the pair kissing with Mladenovic saying: "I have eyes only for him".
The disappointment of failing to create a first match point seemed to weigh on him in the tiebreak and he played it dreadfully, showing rare confusion in going 0-3 down and then losing it 7-4.
Today, they will try it for the first time in the US Open quarter-finals at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre and see how it goes.
But for all their history, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have never played on a hard court, and they have never played in NY. Thiem threw everything he had in this one, firing 18 aces and 74 winners in total, combined with 57 unforced errors.
Nadal leads their head-to-head 7-3 with all of their matches coming on clay courts.
With the courts playing quite slowly, he should have the time to continue taking big cuts against Nadal and he will need to. "To win in straight sets in every round is good for the body and physical condition", said Del Potro popularly referred to as DelPo. This was the longest match Rafael Nadal has ever played in NY and he was forced to give his best after a slow start and overpower a great rival who finally produced super quality tennis outside clay and proved his position in the Top 10.
That said, you don't win 17 Grand Slams without being able to dig deep in the face of adversity and after hanging in there, the top seed took advantage of a poor service game from the 25-year-old to earn the chance to serve out the second.