Men's Match of the Decade No. 5: Nadal d. Thiem, 2018 US Open

Men's Match of the Decade No. 5: Nadal d. Thiem, 2018 US Open

“When the things happen like this, the atmosphere and the crowd become more special,” said the Spaniard after his 0–6, 6–4, 7–5, 6–7 (4), 7–6 (5) quarterfinal victory.

Big Three. Big ballers. Big scores. The 2010s were defined by giant-sized contents on the men's side, which we'll review over the next two weeks.

See the entire men's and women's lists here, and relive each match with our video retrospectives.


“What is important about this match is the level of tennis, the dramatic match,” Nadal said at roughly 3:00 A.M. in the interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “When the things happen like this, the atmosphere and the crowd become more special,” Rafael Nadal told the press at 3:00 A.M. local time. “People get involved.”

That’s a good description of what fans love about US Open night sessions. And Rafa’s four-hour, 49-minute quarterfinal win over Dominic Thiem, which ended at 2:04 A.M., with both players having sweated a small ocean, was the decade’s quintessential night match. It was also another moment when a new generation seemed poised to make a breakthrough, only to see the older generation block the way at the last minute.

Thiem came out swinging, and connecting; he hit 13 winners in the first set and handed Nadal a rare bagel. Nadal won the next two sets and seemed destined to win the fourth, but Thiem found a second—or maybe a fifth—wind, and hit 19 more winners to take the set, an 81-minute mini-epic of its own. But Nadal regrouped again and answered with 15 winners in the fifth. 


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After all of that offense, Rafa finally prevailed with a towering defensive lob that Thiem smashed long as the clock ticked past 2:00 A.M.

“It’s going to be stuck in my mind forever,” Thiem said.

The same will be true for anyone who witnessed this most exhausting of classics. But for us, the memory will be a lot happier.