World number one Rafael Nadal notched up his 50th win at the US Open on Monday to reach the quarter-finals for the seventh time.
The two-time champion, who could meet old rival Roger Federer in New York for the first time at the semi-final stage, crushed Ukraine’s Alexander Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
The 31-year-old Spaniard goes on to face either 19-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia or Belgian ninth seed David Goffin for a place in the last-four.
“I played a solid match with not many mistakes,” said Nadal, the reigning French Open champion.
“He’s a player who can play amazing shots but sometimes he can be very unpredictable with errors so I just waited for my opportunity.”
Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion in New York, showed no signs of the struggles that bedeviled him in the two previous rounds, when he dropped the opening set before prevailing in four.
His 23 winners on Monday were just shaded by world number 64 Dolgopolov’s 25 but the Ukrainian’s 39 unforced errors were more than three times those committed by Nadal.
Nadal’s QFs per Grand Slam
Australian Open – 9
Roland Garros – 11
Wimbledon – 5#USOpen – 7
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 4, 2017
Federer, bidding for a sixth US Open and 20th major, will tackle Philipp Kohlschreiber later Monday.
After stretching his runs of dominance over Mikhail Youzhny to 17-0 and Feliciano Lopez to 13-0, the 36-year-old Federer takes an 11-0 advantage into his night-time duel with German 33rd seed Kohlschreiber.
The remaining last-16 tie of the day sees 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, the 24th seeded Argentine, up against Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem.
Thiem, who was forced to quit with injury against del Potro at the same stage in 2016, celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday.
Top seed Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016, needed just 46 minutes to sweep past Jennifer Brady of the United States 6-1, 6-0 and make her third Slam quarter-final of 2017.
The tall Czech had needed back-to-back three-setters to get to the last 16, including having to save a match point against Zhang Shuai of China in the third round.
But the 25-year-old world number one fired 23 winners on Sunday while the outclassed Brady, the 91st-ranked player, managed just six in her quickfire demolition.
Pliskova will next face either 37th-ranked compatriot Lucie Safarova or US 20th seed CoCo Vandeweghe for a place in the semi-finals.
“I think it was one of my best matches this year,” said Pliskova.
“But the opponent was not the best. Definitely she can play better than she was playing today.”
Rafael Nadal has conquered the French Open 10 times and battled career-threatening knee and wrist injuries, but his greatest challenge awaits him — telling rowdy New Yorkers to be quiet.
The world number one and two-time US Open champion took his first-round record at the season’s concluding Grand Slam to 13-0 on Tuesday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
But with torrential rain lashing the Flushing Meadows site, the roof on the showpiece Arthur Ashe stadium was shut tight, creating a giant echo-chamber for the boisterous crowd of 24,000 beneath.
“Being honest, it (the noise) is a little bit too much,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard, whose Grand Slam collection of 15 titles includes the 2010 and 2013 US Open crowns.
“The energy and support of the crowd is massive. I enjoy it and I have unforgettable memories from this tournament and this court, because the energy is different from in other places.
“But at the same time, under the roof, it’s too much noise. I was not able to hear the ball when hitting. I understand it’s a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise. All the noise stays inside, and this is difficult.”
Nadal’s complaints echoed similar concerns made by Andy Murray last year when the huge $150 million roof over the world’s biggest Tennis stadium was rolled into action for the first time.
Murray, the 2012 champion, claimed that when the rain was bouncing off the outside of the roof, it was impossible to hear line calls inside.
Even the umpire in that match appealed to spectators to cut the volume, a desperate and often futile appeal during the tournament’s famed night sessions when the alcohol-fueled atmosphere is not for the meek.
Nadal said the noise on Tuesday meant that he was unable to hear the ball and that his opponent couldn’t hear him when he asked for a service game to be delayed.
Meanwhile, Nadal said he was equally flummoxed by Murray’s decision to withdraw from the US Open last Saturday — after the draw had been made.
Murray was suffering from a hip injury and his decision to pull out of the event, where he would have been second seed, came too late to affect Nadal’s half of the draw which he shares with old rival Roger Federer.
“Was a little bit strange that he retired just the morning after the draw was made,” said Nadal.
“You don’t retire Saturday morning. You retire Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. If not, you can do it before the draw. That’s why I say it’s strange.”
“Was something that is a little difficult to understand, but the worst thing is he is not healthy and I wish him a very fast recovery.”
Provided by AFP
New World No.1 Rafa Nadal has posted a video message to his supporters after returning to top spot in the men’s ranking for the first time since July 2014.
The Spaniard, 15-time Grand Slam champion replaced Andy Murray at the top of the tree on Monday following a sensational year, in which he triumphed for a record 10th time at Roland Garros and reached the final of the Australian Open.
Nadal, who is currently in New York preparing for the final major of the season – the US Open – uploaded a video to his social media channels from the back of a car driving through the Big Apple.
“Today is a special day, going back to No.1, I’m very happy and many thanks for everything,” he said.
The 31-year-old, who has previously been atop of the rankings for 141 weeks during his illustrious career, is looking to win his third title at Flushing Meadows.