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Greatest tennis players in history stay on course in this US Open

New York, Wednesday @PeopleSport11

Rafael Nadal’s US Open title defence survived a scare and Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equalling major remained on track after both tennis players won their respective quarter-finals on day nine of play in New York.

Nadal, the world number one and defending US Open champion, needed five sets and almost five hours to overcome Austria’s Dominic Thiem in a heavy-hitting baseline encounter on another day of elevated temperatures at Flushing Meadows.

Thiem, who turned 25 on Monday and was seeded ninth, was out to avenge his loss to the left-handed Spaniard at this year’s French Open final. He played the match of his career thus far in his first quarter final appearance at the US Open and first match longer than four hours.

Though he enjoyed a flying start, handing Nadal a rare “bagel” in the first set and keeping him scoreless, the one-way traffic ended there and the remaining sets became increasingly closely-contested. After Thiem pushed the match to a fifth and deciding set, both players continued to trade heavy, free-swinging groundstrokes despite the clock ticking over into Wednesday local time.

Nadal, a three-time champion in New York, ultimately closed it out in a fifth set tiebreak. The final score was 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6, taking four hours and 50 minutes.

Earlier on Tuesday, Williams, contesting only her eighth tournament since the birth of her first child last year, took two sets to edge past eighth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat the American in the semi-finals in 2016.

Having lost in the Wimbledon final this year, Williams remains on the hunt for a 24th major that would see her draw level with the record held by Australia’s Margaret Court.

After a slow start to the match, Williams reeled off eight consecutive games to close out the first set and take a 4-0 lead in the second. She won the match 6-4, 6-3. Williams, a six time champion at the US Open, has now booked a ninth consecutive semi-final at Flushing Meadows.

She will take on Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, who ousted defending champion Sloane Stephens in straight sets earlier on Tuesday.

That was the best result at a major for the 18th-seeded Sevastova, who reached the quarter finals at the US Open last year and in 2016.

In the other men’s quarter final on Tuesday, third-seed Juan Martin del Potro edged past John Isner in four sets.

The Argentine, who beat Roger Federer in the 2009 final, ended the 33-year-old Isner’s bid to be the first American man to reach a US Open semi-final since Andy Roddick in 2006. del Potro will face Nadal in the semis today. Yesterday at Flushing Meadows, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the draw’s 20th seed, will take on Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in the first quarter -final appearance at a major for both women.

The other women’s semi-finalist will be decided between the meeting of American Madison Keys, who was last year’s finalist and is seeded 11th, and Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday with a fourth round win over Maria Sharapova.

The men’s quarter-finals on Wednesday will see a rematch of the 2014 final between Croatia’s Marin Cilic and Japan’s Kei Nishikori, which Cilic won in straight sets. – AGENCIES

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