The No. 1-ranked Nadal overcame a shaky start Friday and used his customary relentless style to physically and mentally wear down No. 27 seed Karen Khachanov, eventually getting to the fourth round with an entertaining and back-and-forth 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) victory. The defending champion staved off a gutsy upset effort to prevail, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), with the stadium roof closed for the final two sets.
With rallies like these, it's no wonder that it was Nadal's longest match ever in NY, clocking in at 4 hours 23 minutes.
This time, the American will seek a quarterfinal spot when she faces No. 15 Elise Mertens of Belgium on Sunday.
Both players battled hard in the second set and Azarenka came from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 before the roof was closed.
Novak Djokovic gets the evening slot against Richard Gasquet while the pick of the women's matches sees Maria Sharapova take on last year's French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. He's young. He has everything.
"Those unforced errors that come out, right now they are costing me matches".
The 22-year-old Russian, who stands 6ft 6in and has a game to match, won the opening set of the third-round clash and served for the second but Nadal's well of resilience rarely runs dry and he fought back to win 5-7 7-5 7-6 (9/7) 7-6 (7/3). "After a match like this when you give everything, okay, you didn't win, but I think it can give me a lot of experience, confidence, what else you can say just to keep going this way, and hopefully it will bring me to where I want to be". She remained on course for a possible repeat meeting by battling back from a set down to beat Ekaterina Makarova 4-6 6-1 6-2. Then he was two points away from dropping the third set.
"[It was] just something that I felt, but I try always during the tournaments to not speak much about these kind of things", the top seed replied.
"I needed that set", Nadal said afterward.
He then had to save a set point in the 12th game before cruising through the tiebreaker to claim his 25th win against just one loss since mid-May. Big respect to Rafa.
The men's world No. 1 was tested in a big way Friday.
On Louis Armstrong, the last year's finalist Kevin Anderson needed five sets to defeat the talented youngster Denis Shapovalov while Milos Raonic toppled 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka after a great serving display.
The pair have met three times before, although never over five sets, with each clash going to a deciding tie-break.
Thiem beat American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a match that lasted 3 hours, 19 minutes.
Thiem has now put together three wins in a row for the first time since finishing runner-up to Nadal at Roland Garros.
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