| By Brian Coleman

Rafael Nadal (pictured above) played his best match of the 2017 U.S. Open on Monday, rolling past Alexander Dolgopolov of the Ukraine 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 to book his spot in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

“I think I played a solid match, obviously … not many mistakes,” Nadal said post-match. “I don’t know how—I didn’t see the statistics, so I don’t know how many unforced errors I had, but my feeling is not many. The most important thing is I often had control of the point and not many balls surprised me. I didn’t hit a lot of balls earlier or later … that’s something that happened in the first couple of days. And that’s very good news.”

The Spaniard needed just over 100 minutes to get past Dolgopolov. He hit 23winners and was infallible on his own serve, saving the only two break points he faced and winning 51 of the 63 points on serve.

Start to finish, Nadal delivered his best performance of the fortnight on Monday. After dropping the opening set in each of his last two matches, Nadal made sure he got off to a fast start against Dolgopolov. He broke for a 2-1 lead in the first set and then again for 5-2 to take the opener.

He would then break for a 5-4 lead in the second set, and the opening game of the third set to never allow Dolgopolov an opening into the match.

“Sometimes you play well from the beginning … sometimes you don’t. Of course it’s much better if you’re able to play the highest level possible from the beginning, but every tournament is different,” Nadal said of his slow start in the early rounds. “The important thing is to find a way to get through and find a way to keep fighting even when things are not going the way you want or expect. Then you have more chances. I’m going to try my best to keep playing better and better, and I feel that I am ready.”

The two-time U.S. Open champion will face Russian teenager Andrey Rublev (pictured below) for a spot in the semifinals. Rublev continued his Flushing Meadows run with a 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-3 win over the ninth-seeded Belgian David Goffin.

Rublev fired 48 winners in the match and broke Goffin five times. Nadal and Rublev have never faced one another, but will meet on Wednesday with a spot in the U.S. Open final four on the line. 

Brian Coleman

Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com