Rafael Nadal finished off the first week of the US Open in style routing Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round Friday night.
“I think I played well tonight,” Nadal said. ‘Very happy about the way I played. First set especially was very high level.”
The win lifted Nadal into his first Grand Slam fourth round since the 2015 French Open where he made the quarterfinals losing to Novak Djokovic.
The 2-time champion wasn’t picture perfect, getting broken twice in the second set, but his forehand sizzled and he hit 22 winners under the lights of Ashe. And it was this round a year ago when he was stunned by Fabio Fognini.
“I don’t know where I am today,” Nadal added. “Only thing I know is I am happy. I am excited to play the US Open. For me is a great news that I am on the tour again, and I am playing every day with less pain on the wrist. That’s most important thing.”
Through three matches this week this year, Nadal hasn’t dropped a set and next he’ll face Frenchman Lucas Pouille who needed five sets to win his last two matches, including Friday over Roberto Batista Agut.
“He is a great player,” Nadal said of Pouille. “He is young. He has all the shots: good serve, good forehand, good backhand. He’s a tough opponent. I practice with him a couple of times and I played with him long time ago.”
I know he’s able to play a very high level. I know going to be a very tough match. I need to be ready for the match. I need to be ready to play my best if I want to keep going.
Nadal joins rival Novak Djokovic in the fourth round. After a walkover thanks to a forearm injury to Jiri Vesely on Wednesday, Djokovic had another easy day at the office playing just six games before 2-time US Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny retired with a hamstring injury at 4-2 in the first set.
“This particular situation I never had in my Grand Slam career,” Djokovic said. “But considering the stage of the season, you know, the amount of matches I’ve played, what I’ve been through with my body, I think it’s actually good to have some days off and then shorter matches from one side.
“I’m not too concerned about my game itself. I’ve worked hard last couple days. Health-wise I feel much better than I did at the beginning of the tournament. You know, I’m confident that everything is going in the right direction.”
Djokovic will now have played just six games in five days going into his fourth round meeting Sunday against Brit Kyle Edmund.
The 21-year-old Edmund arrived after ousting an exhausted John Isner in four sets to reach his first Slam fourth round.
“He’s obviously a great player,” Edmund said of the Serb. “What everyone sees, how you play against him, he’s tough to break down. Makes a lot of balls. You know, very quick around the court. He has lots of good abilities. He’s world No. 1. He’s good in all areas.”
But Isner wasn’t the big upset of the day. That belonged to his countryman Jack Sock who stunned the hot-handed Marin Cilic in straight sets to reach his first career US Open fourth round.
“I think with every year, every tournament, I mean, every experience can only help,” Sock said. “I think just all around I think I’m putting things together better and better. I definitely feel more confident out there in everything I’m doing.
“Used to be some liabilities people would talk about in my game. I feel like I have cleaned those up pretty well. Returning was big for me. I think I’ve gotten a pretty good hold on that. Feeling comfortable. Getting in a lot of guys’ service games now. Overall I feel my purpose out there. I’m executing it well and I feel like I know what I’m going to do on almost every point.”
Cilic had won his last eight matches and had looked good all week, but the 2014 US Open chamiopin had no answer for Sock and fell lto the AEmrian for th second time this summer.
Frenchman Gael Monfils and Jo-Wifreid Stoanga also joined Pouille in the fourth round. Monfils breezed past Nicolas Almagro while Tsonga snuck by fellow 2015 quarterifnalist Kevin Anderson.
Former Australian Openm finalist Marcos Baghdatis outside qualifier Ryan Harrison in four sets. He’ll meet Mofils on Syunday.
Tomorrow, Andy Murray is back in action against surprising Italian Paolo Lorezi and Juan Martin del Potro, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka return.
Del Potro takes on 2-time US Open semifinalist David Ferrer in the men’s match of the day.
US OPEN SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Timea Babos (HUN) vs. Simona Halep (ROU)
Not Before: 1:00 PM
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Johanna Larsson (SWE)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 PM Start
Laura Siegemund (GER) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs. Illya Marchenko (UKR)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs. Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Caroline Garcia (FRA)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
Daniel Evans (GBR) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
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