Rafael Nadal apologetic after epic battle with Dominic Thiem to reach US Open semifinals

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Updated 05 September 2018
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Rafael Nadal apologetic after epic battle with Dominic Thiem to reach US Open semifinals

WASHINGTON: Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarterfinal 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 semifinals for the seventh time.
However, the 32-year-old was fortunate to triumph on another hot and humid night at Flushing Meadows, 24 hours after Roger Federer had been dumped out of the tournament by John Millman.
In a gripping 4-hour 49-minute contest which concluded at 2am, the world No. 1 Nadal won through to keep his bid for a fourth title in New York and 18th Grand Slam crown on track.
After suffering a first set ‘bagel’, Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.
“I suffered, that’s the right word,” said Nadal after playing his longest ever match at the tournament. “I told myself ‘wake up’,” he said.
“I said to Dominic I am sorry. He’s a great guy, a close friend who will have many more opportunities to win the big titles.”
Nadal had defeated Thiem in the Roland Garros final in June but this was their first meeting away from a clay court.
“He has a great attitude and is a great fighter,” added Nadal.
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.
It was his 58th unforced error on a night when he sent down 18 aces and fired 74 winners.
“It’s going to be stuck in my mind forever. Forever I’m going to remember this match, for sure,” said Thiem after his first ever hard court match against Nadal.
“Tennis is cruel sometimes because I think this match didn’t really deserve a loser. But there has to be one.”
The semifinal will pit Nadal against third seed and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro for the second successive Grand Slam.
Meanwhile, in the women’s side of the championship, Serena Williams admitted she was not at her best during her quarterfinal win over Karolina Pliskova.
“I was playing really not a good game,” said Williams, who was a point from trailing 4-1 and did fall behind 4-2 while making 22 of her 30 unforced errors in the first set. “I was thinking, ‘You know, I can play better.’ So that was the good news,” she said.
“Well, I want to just be able to get past the semis here. It’s been a few, couple, rough semis for me,” Williams said. “But regardless, this has been a great road.”


Pogba shines as United thrash Leeds

Updated 18 July 2019
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Pogba shines as United thrash Leeds

  • Red Devils bounce back after an unconvincing win over Perth Glory

PERTH: Paul Pogba shined as an under-pressure Manchester United stepped up their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of old rivals Leeds on Wednesday.

United had faced criticism after an unconvincing 2-0 victory over a depleted Perth Glory on the weekend.

In a much-needed tonic, the Red Devils clinically dismantled Leeds, who have high hopes of returning to the English Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Pogba, who has been linked with a move to Juventus and Real Madrid, starred in United's dominant first-half and was part of a pretty chain of passing to set up 17-year-old Mason Greenwood's first senior goal in the seventh minute.

Greenwood's energetic performance has the teenager in the frame for the Premier League opener against Chelsea on Aug. 11, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

"He's got a chance. He's more than capable and he'll always be there in and around the box creating chances," he told reporters after the match.

Moments later, a powerful strike from Pogba was well saved by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

But it was only a matter of time before United broke through with a moment of magic in the 27th minute from Marcus Rashford, a livewire in the first half.

After a wondrous dribble past the lead-foot defense, the 21-year-old expertly tapped it past Casilla.

Solskjaer changed his entire lineup at halftime in a repeat of Saturday's match against Perth.

United continued to dictate, with Phil Jones scoring a thumping header from a corner kick in the 51st minute.

Anthony Martial rounded out a spectacular performance in the 68th minute by converting a penalty after Tahith Chong was taken down in the box.

The first clash in eight years between the one-time bitter enemies fizzled out, but a near capacity Perth Stadium crowd of 55,000 underlined the rivalry's stature.

Romelu Lukaku was once again absent fuelling speculation he had been dropped from the squad amid reports he was close to securing a move to Inter Milan.

United said the Belgian suffered a knock at training.

"He's missed two chances to play 45 minutes and at this stage of the season it's important to get everyone fit, so hopefully he'll be available soon," Solskjaer said.

Illness kept out goalkeeper David de Gea, who is reportedly close to signing a new five-year deal with United in excess of £350,000 ($435,000) a week.

United will have further pre-season games against Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25, while Leeds will head to Sydney to face Western Sydney Wanderers.