Day 7 Preview: Del Potro Takes On Coric, Nadal & Anderson Step Up
Even the big names admit to getting a little star struck. So when Juan Martin Del Potro met rock legend Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen after a show on Broadway last week, it became a meeting that would go on to fuel his ninth US Open campaign.
The No. 3 seed notched his 40th win of the season on Friday night with a tight straight-sets victory over Andy Murray’s conqueror, No. 31 seed Fernando Verdasco. It set a Sunday showdown with 21-year-old Croatian Borna Coric and if the Argentine felt those Springsteen vibes again it could spell a tough night for the fourth-round debutant.
“I went to see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ at the theatre and I had the honour of meeting him after the show,” Del Potro said on court after his win over Verdasco. “He is a big idol of mine and it was just like winning the title. I hope he can come and see me play but he may be too busy.”
The 2009 champion remains the only player in the top half of the draw yet to drop a set and he will bank on his experience, having claimed 12 of 15 fourth-round matches in Grand Slams. Coric has broken new ground in New York, passing the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time with his straight-sets defeat of 22-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev.
The Croatian has struggled since winning his first grass-court title over Roger Federer in Halle in June, winning just two of six matches since, including a first-round defeat to Medvedev at Wimbledon. This will be his first showdown with Del Potro.
Another fourth-round debutant, Georgia’s Nikolaz Basilashvili, will feature on Day 7 in Arthur Ashe Stadium when he meets World No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal in the first match on. The Tbilisi native followed up his upset of American No. 18 seed Jack Sock with a four-set triumph over Argentine Guido Pella on Friday.
He will be keen to erase memories of his lone prior FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter with the Spaniard. Nadal conceded just one game in a third-round clash en route to his 10th Roland-Garros title in 2017.
Since falling to Dominic Thiem in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals in mid-May, Nadal has lost just one match, to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals. He survived arguably the highest-intensity clash of this year’s tournament so far to outlast 22-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov in a four-hour, 23-minute showstopper on Friday. The Spaniard, who won his fourth Rogers Cup in Toronto leading in, recovered from a set and a break down to turn the tables on Khachanov.
“It was a physical, demanding match. It was a mentally demanding match,” Nadal said. “That's why we practise every day, to play these kind of matches in a great atmosphere in front of an amazing crowd. Very happy to be through. Very happy to have the chance to play again.”
After his surprise run to the final of last year’s US Open, Kevin Anderson has proved in 2018 it’s no flash in the pan. The South African No. 5 seed won his first title since 2015 at the New York Open in February and reached his second Grand Slam final within 12 months at Wimbledon, where he fell to Novak Djokovic. Anderson has survived two five-setters already this campaign – against Ryan Harrison and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. He will carry a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his clash with No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem.
The Austrian is searching for his first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance outside of Roland-Garros. It was on the clay in Paris this season he reached his first Grand Slam final before falling to Nadal. But it has been slim picking since, winning just three of eight matches leading into the US Open.
In a showdown between two of the biggest servers on the ATP World Tour, top American John Isner meets No. 25 seed Milos Raonic on Saturday for a place in his first US Open quarter-final since 2011. Isner holds a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over the Canadian, including a win in this year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals.
The US Open’s No. 11 seed rebounded from losing a marathon five-set epic to Anderson at Wimbledon to win his fifth BB&T Atlanta Open in six years. A former No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, Raonic is bidding to complete the career set of Grand Slam quarter-finals, having never won a fourth-round match in New York in three previous attempts. He saw off 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka in straight sets to reach the fourth round.