France's Pouille upsets Nadal to reach quarters

Sun Sep 4, 2016 9:14pm EDT
 
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Young Frenchman Lucas Pouille scored a stunning, five-set upset over 14-times grand slam singles champion Rafa Nadal, winning a climactic tiebreak 8-6 to reach the U.S. Open quarter-finals on Sunday.

Displaying poise beyond his years, the 22-year-old Pouille took charge early and led two sets to one, then rebounded after sagging in the fourth set to win 6-1 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6(6) in a four-hour struggle against the fourth seed.

Playing his third consecutive five-set match, 24th seed Pouille, still looking for his first ATP Tour title, showed that his quarter-final advance earlier this season at Wimbledon was no fluke.

"It's my first match on the center court, against Rafa," Pouille said in an on-court interview after dropping flat on his back in celebration after his forehand winner ended the marathon on his fourth match point.

"I couldn't dream better than this."

The see-saw battle carried all the way into the fifth-set tiebreak, reached after Pouille answered Nadal's opening game service break with one of his own in the eighth game.

In the tension-packed decider, the Frenchman rushed out to a 4-1 lead. Double U.S. Open winner Nadal drew within 4-3 but a forehand winner by Pouille made it 6-3 for triple match point.

Nadal, who has made an extraordinary comeback from a wrist injury that forced him to retire before his third-round match at Roland Garros and withdraw from Wimbledon, fought them all off to make it 6-6.   Continued...

 
Sept 4, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Lucas Pouille of France winning a game late in the fifth set against Rafael Nadal of Spain (not pictured) on day seven of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports