World no. 1 Rafael Nadal brushed aside Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov on Monday to stroll into the quarter-finals and the second week of the US Open for the first time in four years.
The Spaniard has found the going tough at Flushing Meadows but the hottest day of the tournament so far saw Nadal spark into life.
It took him just an hour and 41 minutes to defeat Dolgopolov 6-2 6-4 6-1.
The last time Nadal reached this stage in New York, he went on to win his second title, beating Novak Djokovic in the final.
“I think I played a solid match,” said the 31-year-old.
“I played with not many mistakes. I know Dolgopolov is a player who can play amazing shots but sometimes he can be a little bit unpredictable.”
It sets up a tantalising quarter-final against Russian teenager Andrey Rublev, who tamed ninth seeded Belgian David Goffin 7-5 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to become the youngest man to reach the round of 16 since Andy Roddick in 2001.
Although Rublev betrayed his young age with a couple of outbursts, it was nonetheless a mature performance from the 19-year-old as he set up an intriguing final eight showdown with Nadal.
Facing Goffin for the first time, Rublev broke open a tight opening set, breaking the world No.14 at 6-5.
A stung Goffin, who has been hampered by a knee injury, immediately broke the Russian twice to open the second on the way to a 3-0 lead, leaving Rublev screaming at himself.
That seemed to provide the teenager with a wake-up call as he stormed through the next four games to force tiebreak, won with a blistering cross court forehand that Goffin could only stare at as it hit the corner.
Rublev then moved in for the kill, breaking Goffin to start the third and again to close it as he clinched a spot in the final eight.
Nadal, who turned 31 at Roland Garros, where he won his 10th French Open title, said of Rublev: “When you are young you feel that everything is new. But he already won a lot of matches on the Tour. He’s not a kid that just came now in this event.”
– with AAP