Rafael Nadal’s bid for his third Grand Slam title of the season collides with American star Frances Tiafoe on Monday at the US Open, where #NextGenATP stars Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are also chasing quarter-final berths in New York.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to watch on Day 8 at Flushing Meadows.
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1) Rafa Takes On Home Favourite Tiafoe: After an injury-disrupted build up to the US Open, four-time champion Rafael Nadal appears to be finding his feet once again at Flushing Meadows.
The Spaniard had played just one match during the North American hard-court swing prior to arriving in New York due to an abdominal issue. Three convincing victories later and he looks in good shape to mount a serious title challenge in New York, where he is chasing his third major title of the season and record-extending 23rd Grand Slam crown.
Standing in his way next is Frances Tiafoe, the 24-year-old home favourite capable of some of the most show-stopping tennis on the ATP Tour. Tiafoe saw off Diego Schwartzman in straight sets on Saturday to reach the US Open fourth round for the third consecutive year, and Nadal believes he needs to step things up if he wants to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead against Tiafoe to 3-0 on Monday.
“Second week against a great player like Frances, I need to be ready to play and to raise my level,” said Nadal, the current No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. “I hope to be able to make that happen. I know it’s the right moment to make an improvement if I want to keep having chances to keep going on the tournament.”
2) Alcaraz Seeks Cilic Hat-trick: Carlos Alcaraz has had the edge against Marin Cilic so far in 2022. The Spaniard defeated Cilic in straight sets en route to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami in March and then again in Cincinnati in August to take a 2-1 lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. He now prepares for a third meeting against the Croatian on the hard courts of the United States this year, at the scene of one of Cilic’s career highlights — his 2014 US Open triumph.
Cilic fought hard for a three-hour, 59-minute win against Daniel Evans in the third round to keep his dreams of a second New York crown alive, but in Alcaraz he will face an opponent yet to drop a set this tournament, and one who has the added motivation of knowing a win keeps alive his chances of becoming the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on September 12.
3) Norrie & Rublev Collide: Cameron Norrie and Andrey Rublev couldn’t have had more diverging paths to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The seventh-seeded Briton Norrie has reeled off three comfortable straight-sets victories so far, while ninth seed Rublev has had his mettle tested in a pair of epic five-setters against Laslo Djere and Denis Shapovalov.
Having split their two previous tour-level meetings, resilient lefty Norrie and hard-hitting Rublev meet for the first time at a Grand Slam. Rublev is bidding for his third US Open quarter-final appearance, while Norrie is already treading new ground in New York, where he had not been past the third round in six previous attempts.
4) Sinner Seeks QF Spot: Jannik Sinner’s comeback win against fellow #NextGenATP star Brandon Nakashima on Saturday ensured the Italian has reached at least the fourth round at all four Grand Slams in 2022. The 21-year-old went one step further at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and he now attempts to make it three quarter-finals appearances at the majors this season in his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with Ilya Ivashka.
Ivashka bettered his 2021 run to the third round at Flushing Meadows with an impressive four-set win against Sinner’s countryman Lorenzo Musetti on Saturday. The 28-year-old has only reached this stage of a Grand Slam once before — at Wimbledon 2021 — where he lost to another Italian, Matteo Berrettini.
5) ‘Special Ks To Extend Grand Slam Run?: Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios have started their maiden US Open doubles campaign in solid fashion but the ‘Special Ks’ face a stern test in the third round as they take on 11th seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.
Glasspool and Heliovaara’s impressive 2022 season has seen them rise to eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, just two spots behind Australian Open champions Kokkinakis and Kyrgios.