NEW YORK: Three-time champion Rafael Nadal cruised into the US Open last 16 late last night with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over 170th-ranked South Korean qualifier Chung Hyeon.
Second seed Nadal returned from three days of rest after a second-round walkover to move through to a meeting with 2014 title-winner Marin Cilic or leading US hope John Isner.
Meanwhile in the early hours of Saturday, top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic rolled into fourth round.
Djokovic, champion in four of the past five Slams and 16 overall, was less bothered by left shoulder pain that nagged him in the second round in defeating 111th-ranked American Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
“That I managed to play almost pain-free, that’s a big improvement from last match obviously,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t know how my body would react. That was nice.”
Djokovic, who needed treatment throughout his second-round triumph, skipped practice on Thursday in favour of shoulder treatment.
“I’m not going to go into the medical details,” he said. “But it definitely was bothering me in the past couple weeks.”
The 32-year-old Serbian, a three-time US Open winner, booked a showdown with three-time Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss 23rd seed who eliminated Italian lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 7-6 (11/9), 7-6 (7/4).
“There’s something with him that when I get into my best game, I know that it’s going to have some big rallies and I’m going to play good tennis,” Wawrinka said.
Djokovic, no worse than a US Open semi-finalist since a third-round exit in 2006, leads Wawrinka 19-5 in their all-time rivalry, but they haven’t met since Wawrinka beat Djokovic in the 2016 US Open final.
n Anett Kontaveit early this morning withdrew from the U.S. Open singles prior to her third-round match against Belinda Bencic due to an acute viral illness, organisers said.
The 23rd seeded Estonian is still eligible to play doubles, where she has reached the second round with Daria Kasatkina.