NEW YORK, Sept 3: Rafael Nadal ramped up his quest for a fourth US Open title with an impressive win over 2014 champion Marin Cilic to advance to the quarterfinals while Alexander Zverev slumped to a four-set defeat.
Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning his match against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the fourth round of the US Open in New York. – AP/PTI
Second seed Nadal – the winner at Flushing Meadows in 2010, 2013 and 2017 – produced some electrifying moments of brilliance to end the challenge of Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 on Monday.
After barely breaking a sweat in reaching the last 16, a run that included a second-round walkover, Nadal stared down his stiffest test so far to surge into a quarterfinal meeting with Argentine 20th seed Diego Schwartzman. The Spaniard exchanged the first two sets with Cilic but grasped control by breaking for 3-1 in the third, a series of dazzling winners drawing an animated fist-pump from golf legend Tiger Woods at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal reeled off nine games in succession across the third and fourth sets and 12 of the final 15 to nail down a 40th Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance, nine of which have come at the US Open.
“The emotions I have when I play here are impossible to describe. I love the sport and feel very lucky to still be playing tennis here. Eight years ago I didn’t think that would happen as my body was suffering badly,” Nadal said.
“It’s a huge honour playing in front of all of you and playing in front of Tiger is a very special thing. I always say I don’t have big idols but one idol is him and I always try to follow him.”
Nadal’s path to the final sees him take on Schwartzman next after the 5ft 7in (1.70m) Argentine chopped down sixth seed Zverev. “He is playing amazing, nothing new, he’s one of the players with best talent on tour,” the 18-time Grand Slam champion said of his upcoming opponent.
“It will be a big challenge. I have to play my best. I’m happy for him. He’s a close friend and I hope to play a great match.” – AFP