World No. 2 Rafael Nadal held off an admirable effort from Philipp Kohlschreiber at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night, knocking out the German, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
With the victory, the red-hot Nadal advances to the quarterfinals.
In what turned into a scintillating, back-and-forth match that featured countless stunning winners from each player, Kohlschreiber deserves a lot of credit.
His serve and volley was a dangerous weapon against Nadal, and he was thoroughly aggressive for most of the night, hitting 49 winners and coming out on top on a slew of wild points like this one:
Still, it looked like Nadal was going to win the opening set, as he took a 40-love lead with Kohlschreiber serving down five games to six. But with the set on the line, the German came back with four straight points before Nadal hit a shot-of-the-day nominee—a scorching cross-court forehand—to bring things back to 40-40.
Kohlschreiber didn't blink in the face of the hottest player in the world, though, winning the next two points to take the game before dominating the tiebreak.
The No. 22 seed was unreal with his back against the wall, allowing Nadal to win just five of his 21 break points (and just three of 19 in the first three sets).
But unfortunately for Kohlschreiber, a calamitous mistake in the second set led to his downfall.
At 3-3 and still zero breaks through the match, he overshot an easy overhand midway through the game, allowing Rafa, who couldn't be approached on his own serve, to eventually earn his first break and even things up.
Later in the third set, after Nadal won another break and seemingly took complete control, another opportunity presented itself for the German.
Unfortunately, a second brutal mental error did him in. With an opportunity at his very first break point, he slammed a simple volley into the net, allowing Rafa to hold and take the 2-1 set lead.
From there, Nadal's foot was firmly on the gas pedal, while Kohlschreiber had been through too much both mentally and physically, leading to a breezy 35-minute final set, which wasn't indicative of the rest of the hard-fought battle.
In the end, Kohlschreiber finished with 47 unforced errors.
When you're playing Nadal, especially a vintage, spry Nadal who is making shots like this...
...you simply can't afford to let chances slip through your fingertips like Kohlschreiber did.
The German was great for the majority of the match, but Nadal was simply elite, showing a blend of speed, agility, defense, unbelievable shot-making from anywhere and everywhere on the court and fiery, chest-pumping passion that should have everyone left in the men's draw feeling very nervous.
Nadal will meet Tommy Robredo, who upset Roger Federer, in the quarters.
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