Thiem's power off both flanks is what had ultimately undone Nadal on clay on those two occasions and seemed like it would prevail in their first hard-court meeting on Tuesday evening as the Austrian stormed to 6-0 in the opening set in mere 24 minutes.
Thiem, energized after extending the match, held serve to start the set, while Nadal had brushed off the signs of discouragement from the end of the fourth. Nadal moves to 8-3 all time against the Austrian to set up a semifinal match against No. 3 seed Juan Martín del Potro on Friday. "You are very good", Nadal said.
Thiem then grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third which he stretched to 5-3 but then it was his turn to crack as Nadal raced away with three games to claim a two sets to one lead. "A question of a little bit of luck at the end".
"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". 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.
Nadal won just seven points for the entire set, his nine unforced errors handing the set to Thiem on a plate. And I played against a great opponent.
"It's going to be stuck in my mind", he said.
Nadal, who registered his 12th consecutive victory in the tournament, managed to maintain his record of not losing a single US Open quarter-final since his first last-eight appearance in 2006. He always plays with - plays and practices with a great attitude and sad for him because when arrives this moment, he did all the things well to win the match.
Laughing, Thiem said he did not think Nadal was "really sorry". "I'm playing a lot of hours this year at this handsome stadium".
At this point, Thiem had to ask for a new pair of shoes and socks because his were waterlogged from sweating so much. That was the first set dropped by del Potro in the tournament.
"It has been physically demanding because the conditions have been tough out there, too".
"We fought the whole match and I survived with my serve which was key".
"He will say "this is my opportunity and I'm expected to lose, but I have to go out there guns blazing".