WORLD NO. 1 Rafael Nadal set up an intriguing quarterfinal confrontation with Dominic Thiem after he opened a return attempt by Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili with a 6-3 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 victory over the US sniff.
The best seed looked like Sunday (AEST AST) after an easy victory on the first set, but the Georgian did his utmost to catch the third set.
The US Open Champion would not be denied and fired his seventh ace at the match point to end the three-hour struggle of 20 minutes.
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"Two matches in the row that were very tough," said Nadal, who had to compete against Russin Karen Khachanov two days ago.
Nadal praised the 26-year-old Basilashvili, who will stay in the top 30 for the first time if the new rankings are released after the tournament. "He played fantastic, he praised him, he played great and hit the ball very, very strong," he said.
"I am very happy to know," added Nadal after he had made a rematch of the French Open final in June, when he crushed Thiem in straight sets to win his 17th major.
The Austrian made his own spot last year by eliminating American open second place Kevin Anderson in a 7-5 6-2 7-6 (7-2) victory.
Thiem neutralized the blistering of 203cm Anderson by coming far above the baseline and he chased everything the South African could impose on him. He played an almost flawless game and only dropped four points on his first server and fired 42 winners.
"One of my best matches ever", Thiem said about his dizzying performance in an on-court interview, calling his quarter finale berth "a dream come true". Thiem told reporters that his position on the field in the newly built Louis Armstrong Stadium was of crucial importance.
"The court made, I think, a big difference, it's a huge court, I could go back a long way, as I usually do with clay, so there were some good benefits for me today," Thiem said.
"I also played really safe from the baseline, which is also a big part of today's performance, but against him the most important thing is to get as many balls as possible again in the game."
The South African had won all six previous hard court meetings against Thiem, but he struggled to get his legs on Sunday against his younger opponent. After having survived two thrillers of five sets to reach the fourth round, Anderson, the second place from Wimbledon, went up steam and bowed pretty much.
He hoped to earn a rematch with Nadal, who defeated him last year in the final at Flushing Meadows.
"It's disappointing, I wanted to be here to the end and put myself in the fight to win my first major, it was not the intention," Anderson told reporters.
"It was definitely Dom's day today, he played a great match."
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