Rafael Nadal is a step closer to a fourth US Open men’s title after overpowering Argentine Diego Schwartzman in straight sets in the quarter-finals.
The Spanish world No.2 beat Schwartzman 6-4 7-5 6-2 to set up a semi-final encounter against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who earlier advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final after a thrilling five-set win over Frenchman Gael Monfils.
The second-seeded Nadal led 4-0 in the first set and 5-1 in the second, only to see 20th seed Schwartzman level on each occasion.
Nadal eventually regrouped though, and managed in the end to prevail in straight sets by winning the last four games.
Nadal spoke of “a tough situation” in the first two sets, saying: “I had some mistakes but I am super happy how I accepted the situation and the challenge.
“Being in the semi-finals is super important for me,” he said.
“Physically I’m fine. Today was a heavy day, big humidity, and I sweat a lot.
“I had some big moments at the end of the second set and beginning of the third, but the last few games I felt good again.
“Berrettini? I saw him play. He has big serves, big forehands, and is super confident.
“He makes big steps forward every week so it will be a big challenge. But now is the moment to keep going.”
Nadal’s win at the Arthur Ashe Stadium moved him a step closer to a 19th major title in all, which will be just one short of Swiss ace Roger Federer’s record.
Earlier, Berrettini won a thrilling clash that went for nearly four exhausting hours.
With both players fighting fatigue and a faulty serve down the stretch, Berrettini eventually triumphed 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5).
“Right now I don’t remember any points. Just the match point,” No.24 seed Berrettini said.
“While I was playing I thought, this is one of the best matches I ever saw. I was playing, but I was watching also.”
“What a great fight. I’m really happy I don’t know what to say.
“I was lucky I had match points and he didn’t have it. It’s better when you have them. I’m really proud of myself, I was always focusing on the next point.”
Monfils was hoping to join his girlfriend Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals after her quarter-final win over Briton Johanna Konta.