Consistency helps Nadal overcome power of Basilashvili
RAFAEL NADAL took the roundabout route again before defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili to set up a fourth-round clash with Dominic Thiem at the US Open.
Georgian Basilashvili had won just a single game against Nadal in their only previous meeting at the French Open last year, but played superbly here to take a set before going down 6-3 6-3 6-7 (6/8) 6-4 after three hours and 18 minutes.
Basilashvili thumped 56 win- ners compared to 30 for Nadal, but the Spaniard’s greater consistency ultimately saw him through to face Thiem, the only man to beat him on clay for the last two years.
Nadal said: “Two matches in a row very tough ones. I had a big chance at the beginning of the third, if I make that break, maybe things will be different. But I didn’t.
“I think I played a good tiebreak, but he played fantastic. A lot of credit to him. He was playing great, hitting the ball very, very strong. It seems like I was not in control of the point even when I was hitting good shots.
“I’m very happy to be through. I think I did what I have to do. It’s a big victory for me because of what happened two days ago. The physical issue was there of course, but I feel good.”
Roger Federer stole the show against Nick Kyrgios. The pair met in the third round in the most highly-anticipated men’s match of the tournament so far, but it proved to be style over substance as Federer raced to a 6-4 6-1 7-5 victory inside two hours.
A quarter-final clash between Federer and Novak Djokovic seems inevitable.
The Wimbledon champion put aside the ups and downs of the first two rounds with a brilliant display to defeat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-3 6-3 and next plays Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev suffered another disappointing grand slam loss, this time to compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber, but former champion Marin Cilic came from two sets down to defeat Australian teenager Alex De Minaur 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5 with the game ending at 2.22am.
Defending champion Sloane Stephens is the sole remaining top-six seed left in the women’s singles after a day of upsets on Saturday at Flushing Meadows.
Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Petra Kvitova both fell on Louis Armstrong Stadium, while sixth seed Caroline Garcia also lost.
Kvitova was the last victim of the day, the two-time Wimbledon champion overpowered by 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka.
Kerber’s exit, joining Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, means there will be four different grand slam champions for the second year in a row.