After the exit of Novak Djokovic due to injury and Roger Federer’s shock defeat to Grigor Dimitrov, Rafael Nadal remains the favourite to win the US Open 2019 following his defeat of Diego Schwartzman in a hard-fought quarter-final match at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal is seeking Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slams as the Spanish second seed won 6-4 7-5 6-2 against the Argentine 20th seed.
Schwartzman twice rallied from four-game deficits in a stuffy Arthur Ashe stadium.
Nadal, 33, will next play Italy’s 24th seed Marco Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in their last eight clash.
Three of the men’s semi-finalists – Berrettini, Grigor Dimitrov and Daniil Medvedev – have never played in a Grand Slam final.
Nadal’s opportunity to close on Federer
Nadal, who won his 18th Grand Slam with a 12th title at Roland Garros in June, has been considered one of the favourites in New York from the start of tournament, with the other two members of the ‘Big Three’ – Serbia’s world number one Djokovic and Swiss great Federer – also tipped as the men to beat.
That has been a familiar pattern over the past decade as the trio’s dominance shows no signs of changing despite all three men entering their 30s.
The past 11 Grand Slams have all been won by either Nadal, 32-year-old Djokovic or 38-year-old Federer.
But the departure of 2018 champion Djokovic, who retired from his last-16 match against Stan Wawrinka with a shoulder injury, and Federer’s quarter-final exit against Bulgarian world number 78 Dimitrov, has given the opportunity for Nadal to make a serious move in the race to be considered as the greatest player of all time.
If Nadal lifts his fourth title at Flushing Meadows he will move within one of Federer’s tally for the first time.