New York: Rafael Nadal accelerated his search for a fourth US Open title on Monday with an impressive victory over the 2014 champion Marin Cilic to advance to the quarterfinals, while Alexander Zverev fell to a four-set loss.
The second seeded Nadal, the winner in Flushing Meadows in 2010, 2013 and 2017, produced some electrifying moments of brilliance to end the challenge of Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“It’s a great honor to play in front of all of you and play in front of Tiger is something very special. I always say that I don’t have big idols, but an idol is him and I always try to follow him.”
After just sweating to reach the last 16, a race that included a second-round pass, Nadal watched his toughest test so far to advance in a quarter-final meeting with Argentine seed Diego Schwartzman.
The Spanish exchanged the first two sets with Cilic, but took control by breaking 3-1 in the third, a series of dazzling winners who drew an animated fist from the Tiger Woods golf legend at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal recovered nine straight games in the third and fourth set and 12 of the last 15 to finalize a 40th appearance in the quarterfinals of Grand Slam, nine of which have reached the US Open.
“The emotions I have when I play here are impossible to describe. I love sports and I feel very fortunate to continue playing tennis here. Eight years ago I didn’t think that would happen since my body was suffering a lot,” Nadal said. .
Nadal’s path to the final sees him face Schwartzman after the Argentine 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m) knocked down the sixth seed Zverev.
“He’s playing amazing, nothing new, he’s one of the best talented players on the tour,” said 18-time Grand Slam champion about his next opponent.
“It will be a great challenge. I have to play my best. I am happy for him. He is a close friend and I hope to play a great game.”
Berrettini, Monfils win
Zverev went through the first set against Schwartzman under Ashe’s roof during a rainy afternoon session, but lost his way to fall 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
The German was enjoying his deepest career in New York, but he made 17 double fouls and 65 unforced errors and received an oath penalty when Schwartzman advanced to a second quarter-final of the US Open in three years.
“It was difficult because I felt I had the chance to win this and had some break points that I couldn’t take,” said Schwartzman. “He took a break and then I recovered very quickly and felt very good after that.”
“Overall, my season so far has not been the best,” said Zverev, who has reached only two quarters in 18 appearances in Grand Slam.
Zverev said he was hindered a “very swollen” back and hip after a fall in his previous game.
“I had many opportunities that I didn’t use at the beginning of the game. He somehow escaped.”
Zverev lost his service three times during the second set, but seemed to have stabilized when he advanced a 3-2 break in the third, only for Schwartzman to regain the momentum in his favor after a long sixth
Matteo Berrettini became the second Italian to advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open, 42 years after Corrado Barazzutti ran to the last four in New York.
Berrettini went one step beyond his career to the last 16 at Wimbledon in July, where he was defeated by Roger Federer.
Berrettini, the 24th seed, won a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) victory over Russia’s 43rd ranked Andrey Rublev, to reach the last eight in a Grand Slam for the first time.
“It’s something really crazy. I can’t believe it right now. I need a few hours to understand what happened,” said Berrettini, 23, who plays against the 13th Frenchman Gael Monfils.
“I’m happy. Seeing my team and my family here and crying, for me it’s amazing.”
Monfils, semifinalist of the US Open 2016, crushed Andujar’s bet of 33 years to become the oldest player in the Open era to reach his first quarterfinals of Grand Slam with a 6-1, 6-2, 6- 2 routes