NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal kept making a stand, kept coming back, kept showing he would not depart quietly from this U.S. Open. Facing a much younger, much-less-accomplished opponent, Nadal twice erased a set deficit. Then he staved off a trio of match points.
And then, more than 4 hours into the toughest test he’s put his left wrist through since returning from injury, Nadal faltered. He missed a short forehand, pushing it into the net. Nadal knew what he’d done and covered his eyes with both hands. One point later, the match was over.
Nadal was upset in the U.S. Open’s fourth round by 24th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) on Sunday, prolonging the 14-time Grand Slam title winner’s quarterfinal drought at major tournaments.
“There were things I could do better. Had the right attitude. I (fought) right up to the last ball,” said the No. 4-seeded Nadal, a two-time champion at Flushing Meadows. “But I need something else. I need something more that was not there today.”
He breezed through his opening three matches at the hard-court tournament, dropping only 20 games. But Pouille, a 22-year-old with flashy strokes, presented a much greater challenge in the fourth round, pushing Nadal to the limit through entertaining, tense — and intense — exchanges.
“Every point was great,” Pouille said in his on-court interview.
This was Pouille’s third career victory in a five-setter — and all have come in his past three matches.
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