Rafael Nadal withstood his first test at this US Open, shifting into another gear to beat Sam Querrey 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Monday and match his best result at the tournament that’s always bedeviled him.
Playing for the sixth year at Flushing Meadows, the No. 1-ranked Nadal rallied to reach the quarterfinals. He got quite a workout — and a scare — from his unseeded, 20-year-old American opponent. “Very tough,” Nadal said. “Sam is a big player, a big server. He has a great future.”
Down 6-5 in the third set, Nadal suddenly flashed the form that won at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Olympics. Hitting harder, grunting louder and moving in closer, he quickly forced a tiebreaker and leaped to celebrate. Nadal won the final four points to take the tiebreaker and later served out the match.
Nadal next plays another unseeded American, Mardy Fish, who reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open for the first time with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 32 Gael Monfils.
Venus Williams did her part to set up yet another Grand Slam family reunion, beating ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-3.
After she won, Williams could only wait to see whether she’d play her sister on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Serena Williams was set to face Severine Bremond late Monday.
Both sisters are two-time US Open champions. They are 8-8 overall against each other, including 5-5 at majors. Their matchups, however, usually come much later than the quarters. Also, sixth-seeded Dinara Safina beat qualifier Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 7-5, 6-0, and will face No. 16 Flavia Pennetta, who defeated two-time major champion Amelie Maursemo 6-3, 6-0.
Ranked 55th, Querrey gave a solid show and became the first player to take a set from Nadal at this Open. His fans in the Arthur Ashe Stadium private box were vocal, particularly the three who had their shirts off and spelled out S-A-M on their chests. A bit jittery at the start, the 6-foot-6 Querrey boomed 20 aces and showed no fear, trading big shots with Nadal all match long.
Murray set for grudge match
World No. 6 Andy Murray made his debut on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court a successful one by beating Swiss 10th seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round.
Murray is already basking in one of the most productive runs of his career and can now add a peronal-best performance at the US Open to go with it.
By reaching the quarterfinals, the Scotsman surpassed his previous best from last year when he advanced to the fourth round of the final Grand Slam of the season. “This is my favourite tournament,” Murray said of his dominating win in front of a sellout crowd of 23,700.
Murray could meet Nadal in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows as the two are in the same side of the draw.