NEW YORK, Sept 5: Lucas Pouille outlasted 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in a five-set classic to lead a trio of French men into the quarterfinals of the US Open.
Lucas Pouille of France hits a return to Rafael Nadal of Spain during a men’s singles fourth round US Open match in New York on Sunday.
Pouille, 22 and ranked 25th in the world, lived up to the promise of his quarterfinal run at Wimbledon, emerging from a roller-coaster ride with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6) triumph over the Spanish superstar yesterday.
Novak Djokovic steamed into the quarter-finals of the US Open with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory against 84th-ranked Briton Kyle Edmund.
Edmund, playing in a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time, barely got a look-in during the first two sets against the world number one and defending champion, who booked a last-eight meeting with ninth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-2 winner over American Jack Sock.
The defeat leaves Nadal – forced out of the French Open third round with a wrist injury that also saw him miss Wimbledon – without at least one Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance for the first time since he was a teenaged tour newcomer in 2004.
Pouille came out firing, pushing Nadal back with an array of deep groundstrokes and angled shots.
Fifty-two winners from Nadal – whose attacking response saw him come out a winner on 35 of 48 forays to the net – weren’t enough.
The taut battle came down to the fifth-set tiebreaker and Nadal, trailing 3-6, showed his mettle by saving three match points – the third on Pouille’s serve.
Then he smacked a forehand into the net to give Pouille one more chance and the French player pounced on it with a blazing forehand that kissed the sideline.
“It was a very close match, anything could have happened,” said Nadal, who opened the fifth set with a break but couldn’t hold onto it, dropping his own serve in the eighth to make it 4-4 and set the stage for the tiebreaker.
“I fought until the end,” Nadal said. “There’s things I could do better, but I had the right attitude. I needed something more – it was not there today.”
The four-hour, seven-minute contest entranced the crowd in Arthur Ashe stadium, where Pouille recalled admiring Nadal as a youngster. – AFP