Defending champion Rafael Nadal was made to work again for his victory, after going four sets with Nikoloz Basiliashvili. The Georgian only won a singular game during their 2017 meeting at the French Open but one-upped that by some margin after taking a set off the world number one.
The Georgian's power was troubling at times, but Nadal found a way to win his fourth-round US Open, match, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4, to earn a spot in the quarterfinals where he will face ninth-seeded Dominic Thiem.
Nadal's Defense Comes Through
It was rather a routine opening set for both players as the Georgian got on the board early, making sure this was not a repeat of their French Open matchup where he won one game in three sets. Basilashvili was quite dominant on serve, losing only one point on serve in his first four service games.
Nadal opened up the court up 15-30 in the eighth game and finished off the point with a forehand winner down the line. The defense of the Spaniard was on full display with a backhand slice lob over the head of the 26-year-old didn't do enough with that and the defense from the Spaniard was enough to get him the break and later the set.
An early break for Nadal made it seem the floodgates were about to open up, but Basilahvili would not back down as he earned two break point chances. The backhand was his shot which was doing the damage, but the Georgian missed a forehand at 30-40 just wide, hitting that shot from outside the doubles alley.
Nadal held on in that fourth game to go up 3-1 and got a second break in the set after the Georgian hit a backhand long. The Spaniard was making quick work so far of his opponent, getting two sets done in 74 minutes.
Basilashvili Steals Third Set
Both players were tested in their early service games in this set. Basilashvili saved break point in his first service game, and that gave him the momentum to continue his aggressive play and break Nadal the following game after a backhand return left the top seed defenseless.
The 26-year-old Georgian had such easy power but sometimes overhit. A double-fault gave the defending champ a look to break back and a missed forehand confirmed the break for the Spaniard.
Basilashvili had another opening in the set at 0-30 after firing a forehand winner which clipped the line followed by Nadal sending a forehand long. An overhit forehand on a routine ball summed up the Georgian's day as he just didn't choose the proper moments to really go for it. Nadal held for 5-4.
The set moved into a tiebreak, and it was Nadal who got the first mini-break of the set with a forehand winner that found the corner. He gave that back though after missing a forehand. Each man traded points, and it was the Georgian who won the first back-to-back points since winning the fifth and sixth points with a backhand winner to set up set point.
Nadal answered decisively with a backhand winner down the line. The Spaniard went for it all on the next point but just missed his forehand wide, giving the Georgian a second chance for the set. A kick serve out wide allowed the 26-year-old to volley home a winner to steal the third set as he urged the Arthur Ashe crowd to continue to back him.
Nadal Closes It Out
A frustrated Nadal broke immediately in the fourth set but faced trouble on his serve. After a backhand winner set up break point for the Georgian, but three straight points from Nadal saw him off quite comfortably.
Basilashvili really began to miss badly on serves and groundstrokes as he looked to be tightening up. He went on to save break points in the fifth game which looked to have swung the momentum back in his favor. He flew out to a 0-40 lead and broke back at the second time of asking with a forehand winner.
Just when it had looked like the Georgian had taken all the momentum with him, he was broken back immediately after a forehand pass from Nadal. From that point on, Nadal had no problem serving, holding both times at love to finish out the match.