New York: Give Rafael Nadal the slightest opening and he will find a way to win. Give him no opening and he will still find a way to win.
Nadal, the No. 2 seed at the US Open, lost the second set of his fourth-round match against Marin Cilic but decisively reversed course to move within two points of closing it out. Cilic came to the net and hit a volley that seemed beyond Nadal’s reach, but the 33-year-old Spaniard thought otherwise. Sprinting to his left, he got to the ball and flicked it around the net post for a winner, triggering roars from a crowd that included an elated Tiger Woods. A point later, Nadal sealed a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory and a place in the 40th career Grand Slam event quarter-final of his career.
“I saw it. I ran fast to that ball,” he said. “I see at the last moment that there might have been the smallest space from that side. I think it was the only way to win that point.”
Nadal had more aces than big-hitting Cilic, 11-10, and hit 38 winners while Cilic committed 40 unforced errors. “I really enjoyed playing in front of the full crowd,” he said. “Arthur Ashe Stadium here in New York, night session. It’s difficult to be better.”
Little guy, big win
At 5 feet 7 in a world full of giants, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman usually wins fans’ sympathy. “They see the small one and the big one, they are going with the small one,” he said. He conceded height to 6-foot-6 Alexander Zverev of Germany but 20th-seeded Schwartzman prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. No. 6 seed Zverev sabotaged himself with 17 double faults and 65 unforced errors, but Schwartzman was relentless in returning nearly everything. “I have the confidence to beat many guys when the match is going many hours on court,” Schwartzman said. His quarter-final opponent will be Nadal, who called him “one of the most talented players on our tour. He is going to be a Grand Slam champion soon, I think”.
No. 13 seed Gael Monfils of France got to the quarter-finals by breezing past Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. He will face No. 24 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy, who ousted Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-1, 6-4, 7-6. Berrettini, 23, has long admired Monfils. “He’s unbelievable. He’s an athlete. First he’s an athlete and then he’s a tennis player,” Berrettini said. “The way he moves on the court, the way he jumps is something crazy.”
Men’s singles (fourth round):
Matteo Berrettini (24), Italy, def. Andrey Rublev, Russia, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Diego Schwartzman (20), Argentina, def. Alexander Zverev (6), Germany, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
Gael Monfils (13), France, def. Pablo Andujar, Spain, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Rafael Nadal (2), Spain, def. Marin Cilic (22), Croatia, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Women’s singles (fourth round):
Belinda Bencic (13), Switzerland, def. Naomi Osaka (1), Japan, 7-5, 6-4.
Donna Vekic (23), Croatia, def. Julia Goerges (26), Germany, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3.
Elise Mertens (25), Belgium, def. Kristie Ahn, United States, 6-1, 6-1.