Spaniards Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Carlos Moya all progressed to the round of 16 at the US Open on Sunday.
Number two Nadal eliminated unseeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (3) 6-2 6-1 to clear the draw of all 15 Frenchmen who began the week.
Ferrer – the number 15 seed – needed five sets and nearly four hours to dispose of 24th-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina.
By virtue of the 6-3 3-6 4-6 7-6 (5) 7-5 victory, Ferrer will make his first ever appearance in the US Open Round of 16 against Nadal.
“I don’t want to think about Nadal now because I’m tired. If I think about him I’ll be more tired,” joked Ferrer after the exhausting win.
Moya got past dogged German Philipp Kohlschreiber in a late matinee on the Grandstand court courtesy of a 4-6 7-5 7-6 (5) 4-6 6-4 win.
With 21 aces and 79 winners, the number 17 seed will meet Ernests Gulbis, who eliminated Tommy Robredo 6-1 6-3 6-2.
Robredo managed just nine winners, as opposed to Gulbis’ 39. He also failed to break serve, whiffing on three chances while Gulbis broke six times.
With his back to the wall against Nalbandian, Ferrer managed to force a deciding final set by enduring the fourth set’s remarkably long and pivotal eighth game. Ferrer eventually converted his sixth break-point opportunity after the game went to deuce on nine occasions.
Ferrer should not count on an easier time in his upcoming fourth round match, considering Nadal’s tremendous talent and quickly healing left knee.
The tournament’s second seed showed little sign of discomfort in Sunday’s triumph after receiving treatment for left knee tendonitis during his first round affair.
Nadal took anti-inflammatories in the morning after experiencing some pain the previous day.
The pain continued into the early stages of the afternoon’s match, but the tournament’s second seed said it subsided by the first-set tiebreak as the knee became warmer.
“When I was in the tiebreak, I didn’t think about the pain. I was just thinking about the match,” said Nadal. “I’m very happy today about my knee.”
Nadal knows what to expect from his next opponent, having faced him numerous times in the past.
“[Ferrer’s] always a tough match because he’s a very, very fast player,” said Nadal of his fellow countryman. “He’s also playing with good rhythm.”
In the distance for Nadal is number three Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who got past unseeded Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro 6-1 6-3 6-4.
After outlasting Czech Radek Stepanek in a memorable second round five-setter, Djokovic, in his first night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, had an easy time of it against Del Potro, going a perfect 6-for-6 on break points and compiling 31 winners.
His serve was broken just once – at 5-3 of the third set – but he broke back to advance.
After his seemingly never-ending match Friday, Djokovic was happy to make it a short evening.
“It was very important,” he said. “That’s why I was from the start very concentrated, and I tried to very aggressive from the start.”
Djokovic moves on to face number 23 Juan Monaco. The Argentinian became the second of his countrymen to advance to the fourth round when he defeated Agustin Calleri 7-6 (5) 6-2 6-4.
Monaco was much more precise than his counterpart, committing 33 fewer errors during the match.
Nalbandian, who has run into rough times of late, once again failed to advance to the fourth round here. His last appearance in the Round of 16 came in 2003 when he faced eventual champion Andy Roddick in the semi-finals.
Despite Nalbandian’s defeat, Argentinians still have something to cheer about since thanks to number 20 Juan Ignacio Chela.
The 28-year old advanced to the Round of 16 by outlasting number 12 Ivan Ljubicic 6-4 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-3, in a match that took three hours and 44 minutes to unfold.
The win was Chela’s first over the Croat in seven attempts. Ljubicic’s disappointment was compounded by his failure to reach his first ever Round of 16 here after nine appearances.
He will meet unseeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, who came from behind to shock American Robby Ginepri 5-7 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3.
Better known as Roger Federer’s practice partner, Wawrinka got past the third round of a Grand Slam singles tournament for the first time in his career after prevailing in the three hour and 39-minute marathon.