Nadal Finishes Late to Cap Off Long Day

Feliciano Lopez was never in this match. He looked sluggish, uncomfortable and ill at ease as Rafael Nadal spanked him in the fourth round last night. The match ended at 1:16 am last night, which means it–just!–missed being one of the Top 10 all-time late nights at the Open. Had the match lasted nine more minutes it would have been in the record books (interestingly, Nadal has played in the third and fourth latest matches ever at the Open).

Nadal has never looked more comfortable at a U.S. Open. He has not lost a set. He has not lost a service game. He even uncorked one serve last night at 135mph. He said–like after his third round match–that he’s getting better every day. He strolled up his to post-match on-court interview with Pam Shriver with his warm-up jacket zipped open, exposing his chest. He looked happy. His next test: He’ll take on a pretty exhausted Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer has two rough tests over his next two matches–Robin Soderling tomorrow night, and potentially Novak Djokovic in the semis. If Nadal beats Verdasco then he’s looking at either Wawrinka or Youzhny in the semis. All of these matches are eminently winnable, and, unbelievably, it’s looking like Rafa has a better chance of getting to the Men’s Final than Federer does. This is getting awfully exciting.