Rafa Nadal

Dominic Thiem downs world number 2 Rafa Nadal

World number three Thiem saved a couple of set points in the first tiebreak before whipping away a forehand to take an opening set in which there was barely anything between the two.

Spaniard Nadal, bidding to win the only big title to elude him, engineered the first break of the match at 3-3 in the second set only for Thiem to reply in stunning fashion.

Nadal was on the brink of defeat when he slipped 0-40 behind serving at 4-5 after a wayward smash, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion dug himself out of a hole, saving three match points.

Rafa won't play in New York

Spain's Nadal had said in June that he had reservations about travelling to the US amid the Covid-19 pandemic and he joins women's world number one Australian Ash Barty in skipping the tournament due to Covid-19 concerns.

"After many thoughts I have decided not to play this year's US Open," Nadal said on Twitter.

"The situation is very complicated worldwide, the Covid-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don't have control of it.