US Open Day 8: Rafael Nadal Battles Past Sam Querrey
NEW YORK – The Wimbledon women’s singles final is coming early at the US Open.
As expected, sisters Venus and Serena Williams have booked a match against each other. But instead of a title being on the line, as it usually has been when these two face each other on a court, a spot in the semifinals will be the prize this time.
“Even the semis would have been better than the quarterfinals, but at least one of us will make it to the semis,” Serena said. “I’ve got probably the toughest match of the tournament coming up next, so I’ve got to be ready.”
Both sisters easily brushed aside fourth-round opponents Monday, seventh-seeded Venus knocking off ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1 6-3 before fourth-seeded Serena ended the fairy-tale run through the draw of French wild-card entrant Severine Bremond, 6-2 6-2.
In her four victories so far, Venus has allowed her opponents 15 games, one more than baby sister Serena.
In the men’s singles, Rafael Nadal, seeking his third consecutive Grand Slam tournament title, survived the power game of American Sam Querrey to gain a place in the quarterfinals.
“It was very tough,” Nadal said of the 6-2 5-7 7-6 (2) 6-3 win that took 3 hours, 15 minutes. “Sam is a big player, big server.”
Nadal next will meet yet another American, surprising Mardy Fish, a 7-5 6-2 6-2 winner over Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, riding a four-tournament winning streak, stopped unseeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3 6-4 6-3 in a meeting of 19-year-olds, while Great Britain’s Andy Murray beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-1 6-3 6-3.
Joining the Williams sisters in the women’s quarterfinals were sixth-seeded Dinara Safina, a 7-5 6-0 winner over Anna-Lena Groenefeld, while 16th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy eliminated Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-3 6-0.
The Sisters Williams, who have split their 16 meetings on the WTA Tour, have clashed nine times with a championship trophy on the line. They twice met for the US Open crown, Venus winning in 2001 and Serena the following year.
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They produced their best tennis against each other in their last meeting, the Wimbledon final, where Venus won in straight sets.
“It’s tough to play her because she is so good,” Venus said of Serena. “That’s hard.”
Nadal had his toughest match of the tournament by far in getting past the hard-hitting Querrey. The seventh game of the fourth and final set was a perfect example of the extended drama.
The two battled to deuce six times, with Querrey matching Nadal point for point, usually with a rifle-shot forehand deep into the corners that Nadal couldn’t track down. Yet Querrey never was able to break the world’s number one-ranked player and put the set back on serve. Each time Querrey had break point, Nadal would come up with a sizzling winner or Querrey would make an unforced error.
On the 18th point of the game, Nadal reached game point for the first time. He didn’t waste any time, holding to 5-2, just one game away from victory, when Querrey smacked a forehand into the net.
Querrey then held serve, capping the game with his 20th ace of the match, before Nadal was finally able to book a spot in the quarterfinals.
“I was taking some chances and ripping my forehand as hard as I could,” said Querrey, who had won only one match in his previous two US Opens. “I was a little nervous to begin the match, but after an hour I started hitting my shots.”
Nadal is seeking to become only the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win three consecutive Grand Slam tournament titles – joining Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer – as well as becoming just the fifth man to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year after Laver, Federer, Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander.
Querrey, on the other hand, was playing in the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. After a shaky first set, in which he had only two aces to go with his one double-fault, Querrey picked up his game, pushing Nadal all over the court, forcing the Spaniard to come up with sharply angled winners or screaming ground strokes that peppered the baselines. And that Nadal did.
“He had to earn his way that third set, or that fourth set,” Querrey said. “He had to earn it. I didn’t just give it to him. … I mean it’s nice to know he actually had to go out there and fight for it rather than me kind of handing it to him.”