Of the three strongest men’s title contenders, one has exited this year’s US Open. Spain’s 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal was taken to five sets by 24th seed Lucas Pouille before losing in the tiebreak. Nadal surrendered a 4-2 lead in the final set and allowed the Frenchman to take the match to the last tiebreak. Nadal faltered and gave his opponent the fatal match point that did the rest. Since 2004, year 2016 was the first, in which the 30-year old Spaniard has failed to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. Pouille’s 4th round win also means that US Open’s men’s draw will have three Frenchmen in the quarterfinals since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils also won their fourth-round matches. World no.1 and top seeded Novak Djokovic stopped the dream run of GBR’s Kyle Edmunds in a straight sets victory while women’s no.2 seeded Germany’s Angelique Kerber also entered last eight in women’s draw along with 7th seeded Italian Roberta Vinci, unseeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki and another unseeded woman Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.
7th day of 2016 US Open brought an upset loss for 4th seeded Rafael Nadal, who clearly looked on a comeback trail after his wrist injury lay-off for several weeks. The Spaniard went to Rio and returned with men’s doubles gold medal and at Flushing Meadows, he has kept his new-found touch intact until Sunday. Then came the fast-rising 22-year old Frenchman, who had met Nadal only once in the past. He was no match to the Spaniard, who had then lost only three games against Pouille in an emphatic 6-2, 6-1 victory in 2015 Monte Carlo Masters at Monaco. But since then, Pouille has been making steady progress and he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon this year. By defeating Nadal and reaching another Grand Slam quarterfinal, the French youngster has proved that his Wimbledon effort was no fluke. After playing three grueling five-setters in succession at Flushing Meadows, Pouille began by outclassing Nadal in the first set. But the Spaniard bounced back to level up in the second. However, the Frenchman showed poise beyond his years and took a 2-1 lead by winning the third set, only to see that the set-scores were level again at 2-2. That took the match to the final set, where Nadal led 4-2. Just when it seemed that Pouille had to rest content with a valiant defeat against the Spanish strongman, he gave one final push by breaking Nadal and forcing the tiebreak.
In the tense tiebreak, Pouill jumped to a 4-1 lead but Nadal brought the score to 4-3. It was here that the Frenchman forked out two points to hold three match points at 6-3. The experienced Spaniard hadn’t given up yet as he wiped out all three points to level the score at 6-6. Nadal almost earned a match point himself, when he came across a short ball that could have been hit anywhere for an easy winner but his forehand found the net and it was 7-6 for Pouille. The Frenchman was not to err as he finished the match with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 victory after a 4-hour battle. He dropped himself flat on his back in celebration before rising and rushing to the net for meeting Nadal, who waited to congratulate him.
Joining Lucas Pouille in the round-of-eight were two other Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils. 9th seeded Tsonga defeated USA’s 26th seed Jack Sock 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, while his compatriot and 10th seeded Monfils accounted for veteran Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. This also meant that at least one Frenchman would make it to the US Open semifinals since Pouille and Monfils are pitted against each other in the quarterfinals. In another keenly awaited fourth round match, top seed Novak Djokovic ended Kyle Edmunds’ amazing run in the US Open. The Brit couldn’t produce his earlier form against the world no.1 and went down to Djokovic in straight sets 2-6, 1-6, 4-6.
In women’s draw no.2 seeded German Angelique Kerber continued her unabated march to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over 14th seeded Czech Petra Kvitova. In two other women’s fourth round matches, unseeded Latvian Anastasija Sevastova defeated GBR’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5 and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki reached the quarterfinals by beating no.8 seeded American Madison Keys.
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