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Thiem Takes Out Anderson, Rafa Nadal Holds Off Basilashvili To Set Up U.S. Open Tennis Showdown

Dominic Thiem of Austria hits a return to Kevin Anderson of South Africa during the seventh day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 02 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September.  EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The quarterfinal at the top of the U.S. Open draw was supposed to be a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it will be a rematch of the 2018 French Open final.

 

Defending champion Rafael Nadal took care of his business on Sunday afternoon in Flushing Meadows, but 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Kevin Anderson got bounced by Dominic Thiem. In what Thiem told the crowd was “one of my best matches ever,” he upset Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6(2) after two hours and 37 minutes.

 

It was perhaps his absolute best match ever on a hard court, a surface on which he had previously been 0-6 lifetime against Anderson. Thiem, who had won just a single hard-court match since the first week of the season before he arrived in New York, won an awesome 41 of 45 first-serve points on Sunday and did not face a single break point. The South African’s winners-to-errors ratio (40 to 27) was strong, but Thiem’s was nothing short of amazing: 42 to 13 to be exact.

 

“I definitely felt he played a great match,” Anderson said of his opponent. “He made life pretty difficult for me. I thought he defended amazingly. There were pockets (during the match) where he had some unbelievable passing shots. I think overall I didn’t feel like I played poorly today. I think I did quite a few things well. Hat off to him. I thought he really stepped up.”

 

“First of all, I served really, really well today,” the Austrian noted. “Not the best percentage, but I almost [won] every point [on my first serve]. I didn’t face one break point and I didn’t feel so much pressure on service games.

 

“So it was a little bit easier to play the return games. I could change my return position, and this helped me a lot. And also the court, I think, made a big difference. It’s a huge court. I could go very far back like I do on clay usually.”

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during the seventh day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 02 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September. EPA-EFE/BRIAN HIRSCHFELD

Up next for the ninth seed is Rafael Nadal, for whom a hard court was much different than clay in his head-to-head history with Nikoloz Basiliashvili. Nadal had trounced the underdog Georgian 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 at last season’s French Open, but this time Basilashvili put up a stern challenge before succumbing 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 after three hours and 19 minutes.

 

Now it will be Nadal vs. Thiem for the 11th time, with the former leading the H2H 7-3 following his 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 triumph in the recent French Open final

 

“He’s a fantastic player,” Nadal said of Thiem. “He’s a very powerful player. He’s a great guy; very good relationship with him. Happy for him that he’s in quarterfinals here. Last year he lost a very tough match against (Juan Martin) Del Potro here. Yeah, in some way he deserve to be where he is. Gonna be a tough one.

 

“Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament.”

 

Nadal says that before every match. Perhaps this time he actually means it.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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