NEW YORK, September 3, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
In the fourth-round battle of two former winners, World No. 2, Spain’s Rafael Nadal defeated Croatian 22nd seed Marin Cilic to reach the last eight at the US Open on Monday. The three-time New York champion won 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and 49 minutes.
Nadal was ruthless throughout the match but his round-the-net-post shot to bring up match point in the eighth game of the fourth set that kept the match, and Nadal’s performance, alive long after it had ended.
In his on-court interview after his victory, Nadal was asked to describe that shot. “It’s easy to describe, but difficult to make,” Nadal joked.
“I don’t know, I think I followed the ball good because he had a good volley and I saw it, I ran fast to the ball and I saw at the last moment there would maybe be a small space on that side. I think it was the only way to win that point. I hit it well, but to hit that spot you need some luck.”
Nadal won 83 per cent points off first serves to the 2014 US Open champion’s 59 per cent. This contributed significantly in the panning out of the match even as both players won similar points off their second serves. Nadal won 48 per cent points on his second serves while Cilic won 46 per cent points. The 33-year-old finished the match with 110 points, 24 more than Cilic’s 86. Thirty-eight of these were winners while 40 came off his 30-year-old opponent’s unforced errors.
This is the 40th time the Mallorcan has reached the quarter-finals of a Slam. This is also his ninth straight quarter-final at a Slam, since the 2017 US Open. He will next play Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.
Schwartzman, the 20th seed, upset the sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of a Major for the third time in his career.
Berrettini makes Italian history, sets Monfils showdown
The 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini ended the upset-making run of Russian Andrey Rublev in the fourth round. The Italian won 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(6) in two hours and 11 minutes. In doing so, the 23-year-old marked a couple of milestones of his own.
This is Berrettini’s first quarter-final at a Major. In addition, Berrettini’s presence in the last-eight at the US Open will be the first time since 1977 that an Italian man will be a part of the quarters’ line-up of the Slam.
Forty-two years ago, Corrado Barazzutti had reached the last-eight of the US Open. Barazzutti eventually lost in the semi-final of the tournament (his best result at the event) to the United States’ Jimmy Connors. That was the last time the event was played on outdoor clay at Forest Hills, with the US Open shifting to its present venue the following year. As such, Berrettini is the first Italian man to reach the US Open quarter-finals played on outdoor hard courts.
Berrettini’s quarter-final meeting will be against France’s 13th seed Gael Monfils. Monfils defeated Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in their last-16 match. This is the first time Monfils has reached the quarter-finals of a Major since 2016, at Flushing Meadows. Overall, this is ninth appearance in the last-eight of a Major
Tournament remains on pace to set all-time attendance record
Attendance at the 2019 US Open, from the beginning of the main draw (Monday, August 26) through Labor Day Weekend, tallied 540,333, the highest-ever attendance for the tournament through its first eight days. The previous record was 538,266, set in 2018.