South Africa's 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson outlasted Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 on Friday in a third-round match that saw the new Louis Armstrong Stadium roof closed for the first time at the US Open.
Seeking his 18th grand slam trophy, Nadal was stunned in a first set won to love by Thiem before the Spaniard came back to take the next two.
Nadal was on 55 winners and 49 unforced errors, winning six points less than his rival thanks to that bad first set but doing what he had to do in the end despite the fact he wasted five break points in the deciding set while Thiem had none.
When asked if he suffered during the match, Nadal said: "That's the right word. It was a great battle".
"Two matches in a row, very tough ones", he said, understating his almost eight hours of work.
"Against Rafa, I've had three very nice experiences and seven awful experiences", said 24-year-old Thiem.
Basilashvili's approach was all or nothing against the world number one, although unforced errors outstripped winners in the opening two sets before he began to find his range in the third.
The top-ranked Nadal was playing Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the round of 16. "But anyway it's a good stat, it's something positive, it's something that shows I've been competitive on all surfaces in practically all the weeks I've played this year, and I'm happy about it".
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Not only was Nadal two points from losing at 5-all in the closing tiebreaker, but he finished with fewer total points, 171-166.
"One of my best matches ever", Thiem said of his dazzling performance in an on-court interview, calling his quarter-final berth "a dream coming true".
"I think that I have very powerful ground strokes, and I can even hurt him with them".
Overall, the Austrian won six breaks from 13 chances while Nadal scored five from 17 opportunities, staying calm after the 11th game of the deciding set where he was 40-0 up on the return. This will be their first meeting on hard courts after 10 matches on clay. It has been another magnificent season for Nadal, highlighted by an 11th French Open and Masters titles in Monte Carlo, Rome and Toronto.
"Why not me? Let's keep going", said Isner after firing 56 winners past Raonic and 20 aces taking his ace count to a tournament-leading 112.
Del Potro reached the semi-finals for the third time, defeating John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 and ending American hopes of a first men's champion at the event since 2003.
"John is a friend of mine and he deserves to be in the quarters as well", said Del Potro, who has not dropped a set so far in NY.
"But I'm really looking forward to it".