It wasn’t the marquee match-up of the day – that was supposed to be Serena and Venus Williams – but defending U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal and 20th seeded Karen Khachanov turned in one of the best matches of the tournament.
The world No. 1 fell behind a set and a break to Khachanov before coming back to win in four sets grueling sets 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3).
Nadal, who moves on to face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the fourth round, came through by winning big points including this 39 shot rally on set point in the third set. Khachanov fought off four set points – and three double faults – but couldn’t stop Nadal from taking the set and the two sets to one lead.
Rafael Nadal – Karen Khachanov 39 shot rally in 3rd set 8-7 tiebreak. Hit for :56 seconds straight. Not to mention this was 3 hrs 20+ mins into the match.
Unreal conditioning & fight!
“WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BREAK YOU!?” pic.twitter.com/wqixtFUijU
— BIG SHOTS (@BigShotsNation) August 31, 2018
The rallies got even better from there. Nadal had the early break in the fourth set before Khachanoc clawed his way back to earn himself set point. But the Spaniard came through once again on another long rally.
Khachanov scampered around the court, even trying to use a tweener to win the point, but ultimately Nadal at the net was too much for the young Russian.
With rallies like these, it’s no wonder that it was Nadal’s longest match ever in New York, clocking in at 4 hours 23 minutes.
But even with the long match and knee strapping he added to his right knee, Nadal said he expects there’ll be no physical problem for him in the fourth round.
“My personal feeling is that I am going to be at 100% for the next match,” Nadal said.