Dad-to-be battles for three hours to reach quarters as Nadal and Thiem ready for big rematch.
Expectant first-time father John Isner thrilled home crowds on the Labour Day weekend in New York as he battled for more than three hours to defeat Canadian Milos Raonic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Isner, whose wife is due any day, has said that he will drop the tennis in a heartbeat and fly home to Dallas if she goes into labour.
Meanwhile, the big man concentrated on his tennis to reach his first Open quarter-final since 2011.
“The most important thing is I just stayed positive,” said Isner, tested over two five-set matches durring the first week. “This atmosphere is like a jungle. It was amazing.”
Isner lost the opening set, recovering to win the next two. He then dropped the fourth before going the distance to post victory with 20 aces and repeating his Wimbledon win over Raonic.
An opponent for Isner was only determined in the day’s final match, with third seed Juan Martin del Potro rolling over Borna Coric 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Meanwhile, defending champion Rafael Nadal and ninth seed Dominic Thiem will stage a re-match on June’s Roland Garros final after both powered through to the quarter-finals of the US Open on Sunday.
Nadal hammered the Austrian seed ninth in the clay title match 12 weeks ago, but the test on hardcourt could possibly be another matter.
Austrian Thiem booked the first Flushing Meadows last-eight showing of his career with a defeat of 2017 New York runner-up Kevin Anderson 7-5 6-2 7-6(2), who went down with 42 winners.
Nadal had to go four sets for a second straight match but prevailed over Georgian Nicloas Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4.
“I’ve won two matches in a row but they have both been very tough,” the top seed said.
“He was hitting the ball very strong and it seemed like I was not in control of the point even when I was hitting good shots.”
”A lot of credit to him, he was playing great, hitting the ball very, very strong,. I’m very happy to be through,”
Thiem had little pre-Open competition on hardcourt and has been playing himself into form after overcoming a viral illness.
“One of my best matches ever,” Thiem said. “It’s a dream coming true.”
Nadal is eager to repeat as a back-to-back New York champion, with Thiem his next obstacle.
“Now is the moment to make the next step, step forward, play more aggressive. I did a lot of things well during the whole season. It’s the moment to make it happen again,” the player who has won 26 of his last 27 matches said.
“I hope to be ready to make that happen.”
Fifth seed Anderson held a 6-0 margin over Thiem, but was unable to add another victory against an opponent who had an answer for everything.
Sunday he struggled to get his legs moving against his younger opponent.
Anderson came to the court with a pair of gruelling five-set wins in his 32-year-old legs and was unable to keep pace with a fresher Thiem.
The South African who is based in Florida, had spent 10 hours on court coming into the fourth-round match.
Thiem took full advantage: “For sure, also, this court helped me,” he said. of the new Armstrong venue.
“It’s very, very big. I could go far back at the return, which helped me; it’s a bit like on clay, this was also a little bit of an advantage today.”
Thiem will turn 25 on Monday and has had almost all of his title success on clay, winning nine of 10 career trophies on the dirt. His three previous Grand Slam quarters all came at Roland Garros.
Outside of Paris, he had lost six previous contests in the fourth round at majors. Thiem will be forgetting about his collapse here a year ago, when he missed on two match points against Juan Martin del Potro and lost in five sets.
“I couldn’t close it out, Last year the whole stadium was full of Argentines. I was the complete underdog there. Today the crowd was on my side.”
Nadal and Thiem have only ever met on clay, with the Spaniard winning seven of those matches.
“I hope that it’s a little bit more comfortable on hard court, but I’m not sure,” Thiem said.