Nadal eyes improvement ahead of Thiem test

Getty Images

Defending champion Rafael Nadal acknowledges that he must improve his underwhelming performances if he is to defeat Dominic Thiem in the US Open quarter-finals.

Nadal has struggled past Karen Khachanov and Nikoloz Basilashvili at Flushing Meadows, but the top seed faces a very different prospect against French Open finalist Thiem in the last eight.

While Nadal was able to celebrate a clean sweep of grand slam quarter-finals in 2018 on Sunday after edging past Basilashvili 6-3 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-4, he was under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead of him.

"I am in the second week already. That's a positive thing," the Spaniard told a news conference. "I have been in the quarter-finals in all grand slams. I hadn't done that since 2011, so that is a positive thing.

"Now is the moment to make the next step, to step forward, to play more aggressive. I have done a lot of things well during the whole season. This is the moment to make it happen again.

"It's going be a tough one. [Thiem] is a very powerful player and he knows how to play these kind of matches. I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to have the chance to stay in the tournament."

Thiem defeated last year's runner-up Kevin Anderson in the fourth round and won one of three meetings with Nadal on the 17-time major champion's favoured clay surface earlier this year.

Nadal added: "It's a different kind of match than on clay, but is still a tennis match and I know how he plays, he knows how I play. It's going to be an interesting one, a tough one for both of us."