NEW YORK, September 3, 2016
Rafael Nadal headlined Friday’s night session at the US Open, finishing strongly against the Andrey Kuznetsov in their third round match. The fourth seed from Spain won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in just under two hours. Nadal is now into the second week of a Grand Slam event for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros last year, where he fell to Novak Djokovic.
“I think I played well tonight. I am very happy about the way I played. The first set, especially, was very high level,” Nadal said.
“I lost the serve in the second a couple of games. I was serving badly. When you play against a player like him, who is able to return well and hit a lot of good shots, then you are in big trouble. The only thing I know is that I am happy. I am excited to play the US Open. For me it’s great news that I am on the tour again and that I am playing every day with less pain on the wrist. That’s the most important thing.”
Nadal, who has yet to drop a set in three matches in Flushing Meadows, will next face 22-year-old Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who rallied to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Earlier the day, Novak Djokovic benefited from the retirement of Mikhail Youzhny at 4-2 in the opening set to advance to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the 10th straight year.
“It’s difficult to pick the words now. I don’t think I’ve ever had this situation – a second round walkover and 30 minutes only in the third round. Obviously I wish Mikhail a speedy recovery – he carried the injury into this match, that’s what he said,” Djokovic told after the Russian’s retirement.
“I’ll try to get the positives out of these six games. I started well with good intensity so I’ll try to carry that into the next match.
“There’s always plenty of things to work on. Every day is different and you feel different on the court … I work more on less on every aspect of my game. My serve, shots from the back of the court. The first week things are not always 100% so … I didn’t get too much of the match play. I’ll try to get on the practice court. I’m sorry you guys didn’t get to see too much today!
“I just called my team to practice, so that’s the best I can do right now. Try to spend time on the court, get my body in shape, and keep going.”
Djokovic will next face Kyle Edmund. The British youngster fought past John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saved all seven break points en route to a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 63 64 76 win over Kevin Anderson and advances to the fourth round for the third year in a row and the 5th year overall.
“It’s never easy to play that kind of player,” said Tsonga. “He’s serving well. He’s also moving well from his baseline for his height. Today it was a good challenge for me to beat him. I did it well. It was a good match for me.”
The Frenchman celebrated his victory in a new style:
A nice tribute from the Muhammad Ali lookalike at #USOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) 2. September 2016
Tsonga will next face Jack Sock, who defeated 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. The 23-year-old US-American won 26 points more than his opponent and earned his first top 10 win in a Grand Slam. He has advanced to the fourth round of a major for the only second time after Roland Garros in 2015.
Marcos Baghdatis has ended a nine-match losing streak in Grand Slam third rounds with 6-3, 7-6, 1-6, 6-1 win over Ryan Harrison. The world number 44 from Cypros has reached the fourth round in New York for the very first time, as well as at any major since the 2009 Australian Open.
“I’m happy I’m in the second week,” said Baghdatis. “It’s been a long time and I’m happy it came here. I never passed into the second week at the US Open. I don’t miss a lot of balls and give a lot of free points. When I need to attack, I do. I’m very happy with the way I’m moving and returning.
“My goal is to finish my career in the Top 20. It’s a big challenge and I want to achieve that. I’m putting the right people around me to do it.”
Baghdatis will next play Gael Monfils, who edged past Nicolas Almagro, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.