World number one Rafael Nadal won his fourth-round US Open match on Sunday, while Serena Williams survived a three-set challenge as both players booked their spot in the quarter finals.
Nadal dropped the third set and struggled to keep his game on track in the fourth, but ultimately prevailed over unseeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6-8) 6-4.
Nadal said the 26-year-old played aggressively and hit the ball hard in the three-hour-and-19-minute match, his second four-set battle in a row.
“He was able always to come back with very strong shots,” the defending champion said. “It was a tough one, and I’m very happy to be through.”
Nadal will face Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. It will be the 10th time the two have played, but the first time on a hard court, a fact that Nadal said would make little difference.
“It’s a different kind of match to play, but it’s still a tennis match,” he said.
Thiem defeated fifth seed Kevin Anderson, who became the second among the top seeded men to exit the grand slam tournament after Alexander Zverev lost on Saturday.
Thiem won 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) in a fourth-round match that was a bitter loss for Anderson, the Wimbledon runner up.
“Of course it’s disappointing,” he said. “I wanted to be here right till the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major.”
But the South African said it was “definitely Dom’s day today. He played a great match.”
It was only the second time that Thiem had defeated Anderson in eight meetings between the two. The Austrian said the roomier court made a big difference in his success.
“I could go very far back like I do on clay,” the 25-year-old said. That made defending against the Anderson’s big serves easier.
The match was played on the newly rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which was dedicated just before the tournament opened.
In the women’s draw Williams defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. It was the first time during the tournament that the American was pushed to a third set.
Williams rolled the 33-year-old Estonian in the opening set in just 18 minutes, but the momentum shifted in the second set when Kanepi found her feet.
Under pressure in the third, Williams pulled out her best tennis to take an early break and finished out the match without being threatened again.
“She gave me her best game,” Williams said. Losing the second match was due to “one or two crucial errors” early on and Kanepi managing to hold, she said.
The win means the 23-time major champion, including six times at the US Open, advances to the last eight at the US grand slam for the 15th time. Her last title at the US Open was in 2014.
She missed the tournament last year because of pregnancy and took about six months off before starting to play again in March.
Williams said she was surprised that her very high desire to win had not lessened – even while blending the responsibilities of motherhood with the schedule and pressure of professional tennis – putting it at 15 on a scale of one to 10.
She also said she sees the possibility of siblings for her daughter, who turned 1 on Saturday.
“I’ve obviously thought about having more kids – God willing.” she said. “It will happen in time.”