Rafael Nadal reached the fourth round of the US Open after defeating Russia’s Karen Khachanov in a titanic battle lasting more than four hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Spaniard fought back from being a set and a break down in the second to earn a 5-7 7-5 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-3) victory over his Russian opponent.
Nadal needed four set points, including a 39-ball rally on the final one, to snatch a nerve-wracking third-set tiebreak and take a lead in the match for the first time.
“I escaped a very tough situation,” Nadal said on court after the match. “I needed that set.”
The four-set victory was the longest of Nadal’s US Open career.
“It has been a tough situation, a great opponent. I’m very happy to be through,” Nadal said. “Probably there’s things to work on for the next match but the victory means I have the chance to do it.”
The Spaniard will play Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last 16. Basilashvili, ranked 37th, reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time by defeating Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4).
Nadal had breezed into the third round, with David Ferrer retiring from his first round match and Vasek Pospisil swept aside in straight sets in round two.
Khachanov, however, showed why he is considered one of the game’s rising stars, hitting 66 winners and 22 aces before succumbing to the World number one.
Meanwhile ninth seed Dominic Thiem reached the last 16 for the fourth time in five years by defeating America’s Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Next up for the Austrian is last year’s runner-up Kevin Anderson, who beat Denis Shapovalov of Canada 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
“I’ve always lost in the fourth round so I think it’s time I get to the quarters,” Thiem said.
Third-seeded Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina stayed on track by defeating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 7-5 7-6(6) 6-3 in just under three hours.
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