Rafael Nadal, trapped in a nightmare first set against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the US Open, knew where to look for answers.
He didn’t cast his eyes toward the support team in his box or send his racquets out to be restrung.
“When these things happen, normally I am not the guy that looks at the string or looks at the box or looks at the racquet,” said Nadal, who absorbed a 6-0 loss of the opening set, winning just seven points as Thiem rode roughshod over him in 24 minutes.
“I am the guy to look at myself,” Nadal said. “I needed to move forward, to change that dynamic, and I did. But the first step to change that dynamic is not to find an excuse on the racquet or on the string or on something that is not the truth. The only truth is that you have to do things better to be able to fight for the point and fight for the match.”
That’s just what the 17-time Grand Slam champion did over the course of a 4-hour 49-minute epic that concluded at 2:04 a.m. on Wednesday.
When it was all over, Nadal was happy to be in a seventh US Open semi-final but even happier that he’d done everything he could to turn the match around.
“I played a lot of long and tough matches in my career. That’s one more today,” he said after his 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) win.
“In some way when you give everything that you have, win or lose the personal satisfaction when you give everything and you play with the right attitude is the same.”