Nadal and Anderson Survive Tests to Advance at US Open
(August 31, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Defending champion Rafael Nadal and last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson survived major tests in their respective third round matches on Friday at the US Open.
Karen Khachanov, who won the first set 7-5 over the defending champion served for a two-set lead at 7-5, 5-4, and Nadal won the next three games to level the match at one set all.
Nadal fended off three break points in the opening game of the third set. It remained on serve until the tiebreak. Nadal took a 6-3 lead and the Russian leveled the score at 6-6. Khachanov saved a fourth set point but on the fifth set point both men played an exhausting 39-shot rally giving Nadal the third set 7-6 (9-7).Embed from Getty Images
Nadal notched an early break in the fourth set to take a 2-1 lead. But the Spaniard, serving for the match was broken for 5-5. Khachanov held from 15-30 down for 6-5. Nadal saved a set point at 30-40 in the 12th game to send the set to a tiebreak. Nadal took the tiebreak and the match 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(3) in 4 hours and 24 minutes.
“I went through some very difficult situations,” said the three-time US Open winner. “But, yes, he played well. He’s improving always. He’s young. He has everything. He’s a great player. I really see him winning a lot of matches in his tennis career, no? He has a lot of good things. He has a great future to come.
“Yeah, for me personally, of course, it was a physical, demanding match. It was a mentally demanding match. That’s why we practice every day, to play these kind of matches in a great atmosphere in front of an amazing crowd.
“Yeah, very happy to be through. Very happy to have the chance to play again.”
“I gave everything what I had,” said Khachanov. “I think everybody saw it. I’m proud of myself that I could play a good game today, fight till the end. Yeah, just a few points difference that it could go another way.
“Big respect to Rafa. That’s why he’s No. 1 in the world, such a great fighter. Yeah, just happy about my performance. I hope to keep going that way, yeah.”
“I think during all match, for example, I had some chances, he had some chances. It was very close match, very close.
“I would say maybe if I win second set, you know, I would be leading two sets to love. It’s a big advantage. But, yeah, at the end of the day, just a few points that I lost. He turned it around in the second set, then there were two tiebreaks.
“Again, maybe not normal in the third set that I did three double-faults in the tiebreak. That’s actually sometimes when the guy plays unbelievable, you just say, Okay, Bravo, well done.
“But, okay, I did three mistakes from my side, but that’s kind of nerves also that you have in these kind of matches. Nothing to do with it”.
Nadal will play Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia next.
Nadal has played the world No. 37 only once, last year at the French Open a 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 drubbing.
The battle between last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson and Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov went to five sets with Anderson winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in three-hours and 43 minutes over the 19-year-old Canadian.
The 32-year-old South African is a two-time major finalist. In addition to last year’s US Open final, he also was runner up at Wimbledon in July to Novak Djokovic.
“Definitely tricky playing somebody who you haven’t played before,” Anderson said. “Obviously I watched him playing a lot. Actually practiced with him a few weeks ago in Toronto. Obviously match is always different, but you have a sense of what’s going on.
“Also played him in doubles. Sort of what I expected, he definitely did. Served really well. Sort of lively from the back. A bunch of times I felt like I had pretty decent returns. He really punishes you on anything that he has time on, sometimes even when he doesn’t have time.
It was really important for me to obviously get that break in the second and turn things around a little bit. I think that sort of put the match a little bit with me in control. But, of course, it ended up being really close at the end with him coming back in the fourth.
“I thought it was great tennis throughout. It was an incredible atmosphere. Really had to dig deep to get through that one.”
Anderson said that experience helped him to win the match.
“Maybe that helped me in certain moments. But I had to definitely use all of it to get through today. He definitely didn’t make it very easy for me out there.
“I think so far in his pretty young career has played great tennis, especially in the big stadiums in front of thousands of people. That bodes very well for him moving forward. He’s a really exciting player. Obviously he’s going to continue to mature and get more experience.
“You’re definitely going to be seeing a lot of him in the future.”
“Another crazy match for me,” said the Canadian teenager. “It’s great being on the court there against Kevin. I mean, he’s proven that he’s a top 10, top 5 ATP player. He’s been playing unbelievable this year. Last year as well. He’s defending a lot of points here. But he’s shown that he’s capable of playing really good tennis. Today was another day.
“I’m really happy I was able to compete out there with him. Yeah, it was a really fun match to be a part of. Obviously a lot of ups and downs. It was a battle out there. I gave it all I had. Nothing to regret from it.”
Ninth seed Dominc Thiem stopped American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach the round of 16 for the fourth time in five years.
Just before he was about to serve for the match the first time, the rain came and halted play. After the delay he was promptly broken. But he did eventually close it out.
“It was a really tough match, said the Austrian. “He played very well. I mean, already last year was a close match against him in the second round. Obviously, we hopefully improved in this one year. I expected a tough and close one again, which it was at the end.
“I started a little bit too slow, then pumped myself up with maybe not the best ways, but still I pumped myself up.
“At the end it was really funny and also strange with the rain delay. Maybe that I broke him again to 6-4.”
On potentially facing Kevin Anderson, the ninth seed said: “He’s one of the hottest players on tour right now. Last four slams, he made two finals. Out of the big servers, he’s, I think, the one with the best baseline game and with the best return. You are under pressure basically the whole match.
“Yeah, there’s a reason why he’s I think No. 5 now. Why he has so much success, because he’s just playing amazing.”
Anderson on Thiem:
“Played Dom a few times. Had a lot of really close matches. He’s had another really great year. Has had another year where he’s one of the best players in the world.
“Going to have my work cut out for me. It’s not getting any easier, round of 16 now, second week. Really going to have to focus on my game, continue doing what I’m doing.
“Obviously there’s a few adjustments playing him. For the most part it’s me really focusing on what I need to do. I feel if I do that, I’m going to give myself the best opportunity to go one step further.”
John Isner will face Milos Raonic in the round of 16 on Sunday. The American Isner needed four set to beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6(10), 6-7(8), 6-3, 7-5.
“It was a tough match,” said Isner. “Every time I’ve played him, it’s always been tough. I expected that tonight. But I’m happy to get through in four sets. I was out there for more than three hours. It was a pretty long match. All in all, I think physically I feel pretty good, so that’s a good sign going forward.”
On playing Raonic, Isner commented:
“I haven’t really seen him play, but I’ve seen his results. He seems to be playing very well. I think back to his level of a few years past. I mean, I have the utmost respect for him. I think he’s an excellent player, he’s proved that his whole career.
“It will be a tough match certainly. We’ve played a handful of times. Matches between us are inherently close, as you can imagine. But we’ll see what happens.”
Milos Raonic stopped 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka’s run 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-3. it will be the fourth time since 2012 that the Canadian has reached the fourth round at the US Open.
“I think in general the level was quite high, quite good from my side,” Wawrinka said. “I was feeling good, moving well, playing some good shots. For sure the first set got few points there, some set point on my serve, breakpoint. But that’s what happen when you play Milos, you don’t have a lot of chance, but you need to take them.
“Today I wasn’t strong enough, tough enough in important points. In the key points, I was a bit soft.”
“I think right now for sure after the loss, I would say it’s a bad loss because I still think was a lot of more space for me tonight. But again, as I say, I wasn’t tough enough with myself. I wasn’t strong and there enough.”
More to follow….