Rafael Nadal stormed into the US Open final with a resounding victory over Marin Cilic on Monday night.
In a battle of former US Open champions, the second seed beat the 2014 winner 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-2 to book a quarterfinal meeting with Diego Schwartzman.
Schwartzman earlier in the day upset No.6 seed Alexander Zverev in four sets to reach his third major quarterfinal.
Nadal was snapped into action after being bullied about the court in the second set; the Spaniard responded by winning 10 of the next 11 games to build what would prove an insurmountable lead.
It was similar to how he responded when Dominic Thiem won the second set of their French Open final in June; Nadal won 12 of the final 14 games to completely dominate the contest.
Having improved his head-to-head record over Cilic to 7-2, the three-time US Open champion takes a 7-0 lead in his series against Schwartzman into their match, scheduled for Wednesday in New York.
Locked in a tight test earlier in the match, Nadal conjured an over-the-shoulder, back-to-the-net flick of a volley winner that he celebrated with his trademark leap and punch of the air.
If that wasn’t the shot of the match then it may have been a cross-court backhand passing winner off an overhead by his opponent, 2014 champion Marin Cilic.
Then again both were later surpassed by the sprinting, sliding, bend-it-around-the-net-post forehand winner to get to match point, which Woods loved too.
Asked to explain his stunning forehand, Nadal chuckled and said: “It’s easy to describe and difficult to make. I hit it well but to hit that spot, of course you need some luck.”
The 18-time Grand Slam champion reached his ninth quarterfinal in New York and 40th at a major.
Against Cilic, who entered his battle with Nadal at 5-0 in fourth-round matches at Flushing Meadows, everything turned shortly after Nadal ceded a set for the first time in the tournament.
“After the second set I had to make a change or I would be in his hands,” Nadal said.
“I started to return the second serve inside the court and that gave me a different perspective in points.”
At 2-1 in the third set, with Cilic serving, Nadal came up with that no-look volley to begin things. After Cilic missed a shot, Nadal’s big backhand made it 0-40.
One double-fault later, that game was over – as, essentially, was the match.
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