Rafael Nadal ramped up his quest for a fourth US Open title on Monday with an impressive win over 2014 champion Marin Cilic to advance to the quarterfinals.
Second seed Nadal – the winner at Flushing Meadows in 2010, 2013 and 2017 – produced some electrifying moments of brilliance to end the challenge of Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
After barely breaking a sweat in reaching the last 16, a run that included a second-round walkover, Nadal stared down his stiffest test so far to surge into a quarterfinal meeting with Argentine 20th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The Spaniard exchanged the first two sets with Cilic but grasped control by breaking for 3-1 in the third, a series of dazzling winners drawing an animated fist-pump from golf legend Tiger Woods at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal reeled off nine games in succession across the third and fourth sets and 12 of the final 15 to nail down a 40th Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance, nine of which have come at the US Open.
“It’s a huge honour playing in front of all of you and playing in front of Tiger is a very special thing. I always say I don’t have big idols but one idol is him and I always try to follow him.”
Nadal’s path to the final sees him take on Schwartzman next after the 5ft 7in (1.70m) Argentine chopped down sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
Zverev rolled through the opening set against Schwartzman under the roof on Ashe during a rainy afternoon session, but he lost his way to go down 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
The German was enjoying his deepest run in New York but committed 17 double faults and 65 unforced errors and received a point penalty for swearing as Schwartzman advanced to a second US Open quarterfinal in three years.
Matteo Berrettini became just the second Italian man to progress to the US Open quarterfinals, 42 years after Corrado Barazzutti’s run to the last four in New York.
Berrettini, the 24th seed, eased to a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) win over Russia’s 43rd-ranked Andrey Rublev to reach the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time.