Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 03, 2018 05:57 AM
Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili, of Georgia, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final.

Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final.

Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem.

Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal.

Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title.

The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May.

"He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament."

Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay.

On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set.

Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament.

"Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be."

He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface.

But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point.

"First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games."

Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win.

"It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful."

Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match.

Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis.

She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star.

Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows.

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