Ailing Del Potro escapes brink to beat Thiem

Wednesday, 6 September 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: An ailing Juan Martin Del Potro came back from the brink of defeat to beat Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem 1-6 2-6 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4 and reach the last eight of the US Open on Monday.

Del Potro, the 2009 champion who will next face Roger Federer, saved two match points in the fourth set of what was arguably the best of the tournament so far.

Del Potro struggled early on, spraying the court with unforced errors and the Argentine called the doctor twice.

At 5-0, he took a tablet. He won one game and had two break points at 5-1 but Thiem, who was looking to book his spot in the last eight here for the first time, coolly closed out the set.

He raced to a 4-0 lead in the second as Del Potro looked completely out of sorts.

The ‘Dominator’ was in full control, dictating the play with deep forehands, and he sealed the set with a cracking backhand winner down the line.

The question was then whether Del Potro would retire.

But the Argentine found his range with his impressive wristy forehand. His opponent could not keep up the pace and Del Potro easily pulled one back.

The real fight started in the fourth set.

Del Potro broke for 2-1 but Thiem played tighter and broke immediately back. A delightful backhand winner earned him another break for 4-2 and the Austrian served for the set at 5-3.

He led 30-0 but lost his focus and scooped a forehand long to allow Del Potro back in the contest.

Thiem had two match points at 6-5 but Del Potro saved them with consecutive aces – one of them at 204 kph.

In the resulting tiebreak, Thiem suffered a meltdown and Del Potro levelled with a gravity-defying crosscourt forehand winner.

The decider was tightly contested but Del Potro eventually had the last word. On the second match point, he challenged Thiem’s second serve and was spot on as the ball was out, meaning the wiry Argentine got to fight another day.

Federer and Nadal move within sight of landmark meeting

REUTERS: Roger Federer crushed Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-2 7-5 to ease into the quarter-finals of the US Open and remain on a collision course for a semi-final showdown with Rafa Nadal.

The elegant Swiss maestro and the muscular Spaniard have played for titles on French Open clay, Wimbledon’s manicured lawns and in Australian heat and while no trophy would be on the line, a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.

One of sport’s great rivalries, Federer and Nadal have clashed 37 times over the years but never stood across from each other on Flushing Meadows’ hardcourts.

Standing between Federer and a semi-final berth is towering Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who beat the former world number one in the 2009 final to lift his only grand slam title.

Nadal kept up his end of the bargain with a straight sets win over Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov earlier on Monday. He will need to get past 19-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev.

After two marathon five-setters to open his U.S. Open account, Federer sprinted past veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in just 77 minutes in the third round and dismissed Kohlschreiber in one hour, 49 minutes without facing a break point.

Unbeaten by the German in 11 matches prior to Monday’s clash, Federer started quietly and was content to feel out his opponent but it was not long until he turned up the pressure and broke his opponent with a thundering forehand before wrapping up the first set.

With the match on serve at 2-1, razor sharp Federer tore through six successive games to take the second set and go 1-0 up in the third.

With Kohlschreiber on the ropes, the 36-year-old Swiss seemed to ease up but he took the decisive break at 6-5 before closing out the match with a classic forehand winner.

If there was one worry about the Swiss in the one-sided contest, it was the sight of him leaving the court before the start of the third set to receive treatment on a back that had given him problems in the run-up to the grand slam.

Federer, however, downplayed the timeout, declaring himself 100% healthy and ready to go.