Nadal survives Russian threat to advance at U.S. Open

Tanya Simon
September 4, 2018

Given his history of knee trouble, it is always a worrying sign, but the Spaniard insisted he expects to be fully fit for his fourth-round clash with Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili.

"I really see him winning a lot of matches in his career", said Nadal who has now reached the fourth round in NY for the 10th time.

There was even time for Del Potro to discuss what he had been doing in his downtime after his matches and issue an invite to one of his idols, Bruce Springsteen, to come watch him play.

"There are things to work on for the next round, but the good thing is I have a chance to improve."

Nadal needed a tie-breaker to win the third and fourth sets.

The Spaniard found himself in an even deeper hole when Khachanov collected the early break in the second, putting an injury hampered Nadal on the ropes, down a set and a break 5-4.

The retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium was closed because of light rain during the second set of defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens' third-round match against Victoria Azarenka.

He played the remainder of the game with a patellar support, something that hadn't been seen since the semi-final of last year's US Open against Juan Martin Del Potro.

When play resumed he served three double faults to get broken before finishing off the match in the next game.

Karen Khachanov, left, shakes hands with Rafael Nadal, after a four-set tussle over more than four hours at Flushing Meadows.

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Khachanov fought off four set points - and three double faults - but couldn't stop Nadal from taking the set and the two sets to one lead.

Elsewhere, fifth seed Kevin Anderson needed five sets to battle past Canadian 28th seed Denis Shapovalov, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Nadal eventually fought off the young Russian over four sets in almost four-and-a-half hours to continue the defence of his title. Ultimately Nadal emerged victorious, but, as the 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) score indicates, it was a grind until the final moment.

Trailing 2-0 in the third set, frustration boiled over for Thiem and he destroyed his racket on the ground at the Grandstand court. If that match was any indication of how things would go, it was never going to be easy for Nadal.

Nadal took advantage with a love service hold and a break to level the contest just moments after the roof was closed.

WORLD number one and defending champion Rafael Nadal came back from a set and break down to defeat big-hitting Karen Khachanov 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/3) and reach the US Open fourth round.

Thiem has now put together three wins in a row for the first time since finishing runner-up to Nadal at Roland Garros.

After the match, Stephens said she is hoping to "take an afternoon stroll, get a hot chocolate instead of staying in the hotel for eight hours straight", given the much more palatable temperatures.

The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium rewarded her with a standing ovation.

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