Oh Jule! I’m afraid to say that she’s gone: Swiatek isn’t playing that well, but she’s just secured the double break, to love, for 4-0 in the decider. In comms they reckon Niemeier has played the opponent not the ball, but i wonder if she might just be knackered – it’s crazy hot out there, and i doubt the pressure is especially chilling.
At 4-4 in set two, Nadal tosses low and tired, sends down a double, and hands Tiafoe a go at deuce; Tiafoe is there for it too, only to go early on an easy ball and push into the net. Anguish! Naturally, Nadal finds a great forehand next point and now leads 5-4 in the second, while Swiatek has consolidated her break to lead Niemeier, struggling with her second serve, 3-0 in the third.
Facing two break points, Niemeier saves the first with a terrific serve out wide backed up by a clean-up wrongfooting forehand into the same corner, then another booming forehand encourages Swiatek to go long in response. But Swiatek keeps at it, eventually securing the break, and Niemier needs to reset, fast; she trails 0-2 in the decider.
Calvin Betton, our relevant coach, messages again on Tiafoe: “Tiafoe is just too nice a kid to be one of the elite. He’s not a killer.”
However, Nadal just isn’t moving as he usually does, and is getting out-hit from the back. I quite fancy him to bring this one home – though Nadal has just held to love ands has dropped only two points on serve this set.
Eesh, Niemeier gives up another break, the seventh we’ve seen in eight games, and this time it costs her the set because she’s run out of break-back opportunities. Swiatek 2-6 6-4 Niemeier
Nadal is serving well now, but the problem for him is that Tiafoe is too; what’s surprising, though, is that he’s not changed anything, still struggling to make capital on when facing a second delivery. So in comms, they’re wondering if his body is limiting what he can do – “It doesn’t make sense for someone of his stature to be doing what’s not working,” says Martina. Anyroad, it’s 2-2 in the second, Tiafoe having taken the first 6-4.
Goodness me, Niemeier gets herself 30-40 … and Swiatek double faults to hand back the break! She has some stern words with herself at change of ends, but she’s struggling and she knows it, trailing 2-6 5-4.
A terrific forehand to the forehand corner is too good even for Niemeier, and Swiatek roars her pleasure in her break. She is pumped, and at 5-3 will serve for 1-1.
Thanks Tom. Nadal has held in the first game of set two, while Niemeier is serving at 6-2 3-4 40-40; Swiatek yelps in fury at allowing her to deuce with yet another netted groundstroke.
Nadal is back on court after that medical timeout. He was off court for nearly 10 minutes, so we’ll see how that affects Tiafoe’s momentum after takin the first set. And on that bombshell, I’ll hand back to Daniel.
Business back to usual with Iga Swiatek after breaking Niemeier twice in the second to go 4-2 up. Her radar is still off though, and her 27th unforced error of the day makes it 15-40 and gives Niemeier a chance to get the set back on serve. Which she does at the first attempt, with a rifled backhand.
Nadal is getting his wrist taped and treated after losing that first set.
Tiafoe serves for the set against Nadal. If he’s nervous, he doesn’t show it outwardly and he’s soon 40-0 up. Well, maybe there are a few nerves: he double faults to make it 40-15. Then a brilliant backhand return from Nadal scorches across court for 40-30. The next point is perfect for the American though, as he moves Nadal back and forth before clinching the set with a volley. Tiafoe leads Nadal 6-4 after the first set.
It’s worth remembering that Rafa also lost the first set in two of his first three matches here. But Tiafoe is a far superior player to Fabio Fognini and Rinky Hijikata.
Swiatek has broken back against Niemeier, so we’re back on serve in the second set.
That last game was the first time Tiafoe had broken Nadal in their three matches together. He’s 0-30 down early on in the next game as he aims to consolidate the break but battles back to 40-30 with a beautiful whipped forehand. Nadal replies with a backhand winner and we’re at deuce. At advantage, Tiaefoe lets a shot go past him but it lands in. He does eventually hold for 5-3.
Meanwhile, Niemeier has broken Swiatek and just needs to hold serve for the rest of the second set to send the No 1 seed out!
Niemeier continues to make it tough for Swiatek. The No 1 seed serves to open the second set after losing the first and is taken to deuce by her opponent before holding. Meanwhile, a few wobbles for Nadal who is 0-30 down to Tiafoe after an unforced error – he already has eight so far early-ish in the first set. The American has a good chance to make it 0-40 but sends his shot wide. There’s a brief pause as world-class sweater Nadal asks for some moisture to be wiped off court. It doesn’t do him much good: two forehands go long and Tiafoe has broken Nadal to make it 4-3 in the first.
Jessica Pegula got through to her first US Open quarter-final earlier this afternoon and is having a chat with ESPN. She will play the winner of Swiatek and Niemeier and says she’s not surprised the German is a set up against the world No 1, as she’s seen her talent develop recently.
Cameron Norrie lost earlier this afternoon, and our own Tumaini Carayol was there to watch what was an uncharacteristically flat performance from the Briton. Here’s the report in full:
Tiafoe sends down a serve at 30-30 that is recorded at 135mph but looks about 465mph. It’s straight down the middle and Nadal can’t get anywhere near it. Tiafoe goes on to hold and we’re level at 2-2 in the first.
A few problems for Niemeier as she attempts to serve out the set. Swiatek takes her to deuce on the German’s own serve, but Niemeier holds her nerve (and serve) and she takes the first set! The shock is on…
Anyroad up, I’m off for a break; here’s Tom Lutz to keep you apprised while I’m gone.
In making round four, Niemeier hasn’t played anyone seeded, but she’s taken to Swiatek nicely, outhitting her from the back, and it’s no surprise when she makes 15-40. But she can’t convert, wasting her second break point by ambling in to net sloppily. No matter: she monsters another second set to then hit a drop, slips while hitting a forehand … and distracted at the other end, Swiatek, who need only get the ball into court, nets! Niemeier has the double break at 5-2! Back on Ashe, by the way, a hold each has Tiafoe and Nadal at 1-1.
Swiatek’s hitting the net a lot today, and does so again when she gets Niemeier serves at deuce. She does win the next point, though, only for Niemeier to close out from there and increase her lead to 4-2 in the first.
The problem, of course, is that Tiafoe is playing Superman, so.
Niemeier still has her break, leading Swiatek 3-2, while Tiafoe comes out for his match with Nadal wearing a hoodie … in 100% humidity. That’s like Barcelona 92 when Derartu Tulu did this to Liz McColgan.
While they wait for Tiafoe and Nadal, Henman and Rusedski discuss the Rublev v Norrie match, noting that Rublev had played a lefty in Shapovalov in the previous round and also that his forehand is seriously respected on tour. But what really impressed them is how he kept the head and how Norrie got round four despite not playing well. I do wonder how he gets better from here – it feels a bit like he’s reached the outermost limits of his athleticism and talent – but experience will help.
“They’re now rolling back the roof on Ashe in time for Rafa,” says the returning Tobias Peggs. “It must be said, it’s thing of engineering beauty.”
They’ve opened the roof on Ashe and are doing likewise on Armstrong.
Next on Ashe: Francis Tiafoe  v Rafael Nadal .
As we were saying, no one knows anything when it comes to women’s tennis, and Niemeier breaks Swiatek at the first time of asking to lead 1-0, then holds to 15 for 2-0. She looks to me like a real talent.
Pegula has now made three slam quarters this year and says that when Kvitova had her moments she tried to stay patient and thinking about hitting her spots. Her parents own the Buffalo Bills, so she should be free to watch that on Thursday, and prior to that, she’ll check out Swiatek v Niemeier – though she knows how Swiatek plays.
That was almost perfect from Pegula, who incited Kvitova to hit an entire set’s worth of unforced errors with her superb stonewalling, and reaches the last eight of her home grand slam for the first time ever. There, she’ll meet Swiatek or Niemeier.
Swiatek and Niemeier are just getting going on Armstrong, and in normal circumstances, I’d say that it’s hard to look beyond the former when considering who might leave New York as champ. But this is this era of women’s tennis and no one’s got a clue what’s going to be.
Pegula holds to 15, and at 5-3 she’s a game away, having hit seven winers the entire match!
This match is slipping away from Kvitova who, at 3-6 2-3 0-30, tries to serve-volley and gets nowhere. But though she saves the first break point, Pegula hits superbly from the back and it’s Kvitova who errs forces, clumping long, and Pegula is two holds away from the last eight!
I wonder if the delay on Ashe – 45 minutes’ worth – was more damaging to Kvitova, a shot-maker, than to Pegula, a percentage player. You’d think that playing like the former takes a little more rhythm and, as I type that, solid defence from Pegula, little more, earns her her break-back. She leads 6-3 2-2.
Next on Armstrong: Swiatek  v Niemeier.
Kvitova breaks Pegula in the first game of set two, so this match is far from over.
Asked if he was surprised to win so quickly after two five-setters, Rublev notes that the match lasted two and half hours, also wondering if Norrie was tired “because he helped me” at various points of the match. He thanks the crowd when prompted, but you can see he’s desperate to get away, so obviously he’s asked another question: what will he be doing later? And the answer confirms what we learnt about him earlier: he’ll be watching Tiafoe v Nadal.
Back on Ashe, Pegula serves out to win the first set against Kvitova 6-3.
He played really well today, though Norrie was below-par, and meets Tiafoe or Nadal next.
It never rains. Rublev makes 30-0 and, in the process, crushes a forehand into Norrie then raises three match points…
Six points in a row for Rublev when he makes 0-30, then when Norrie nets a backhand the match feels almost over. AND HAVE A LOOK! Norrie fights back to 30-40, plays a decent approach, comes in … and Rublev hooks a sensational forehand winner cross-court! In 90 seconds, he’ll serve for the last eight!
Love hold in double-quick time from Rublev, so we’re 4-4 in set three while, on Ashe, Pegula now leads Kvitova 4-3 with a break.
Norrie’s found himself, and didn’t even need a gap yah in which to do it. But at 40-0, consecutive winners from Rublev change the complexion of things, before a protracted rally during which Norrie can’t put away an overhead. But he then gets another chance, leathers onto the top of the net … and it leaps up, then dribbles over! That is the most ridiculous cord iI’ve ever seen! Rublev does not find it all that funny, lamping the ball into the net a second time, and Norrie flinches because he thinks it’s going to hit him. ahis is getting intense.
Norrie remonstrates with his racket and receives a code violation, then plays a terrific point to make 15-30 … and another for 15-40, whipping consecutive forehand with extreme prejudice. Can he convert? Yes he can, keeping Rublev moving so that he goes long, and Norrie has his break back. Has momentum changed? Meantime, on Ashe, Pegula survives break point and is now serving at 2-3.
Pegula and Kvitova are away again, Kvitova holding for 2-1, while Norrie again finds himself under pressure before closing out to 30. He’s hitting it much harder now, partly because the roof is closed and partly because, as Don Draper likes to say, he’s trying to change the conversation.
Norrie finds his serve under pressure again, but on deuce finds an ace and closes out from there. But in soul-crushing style, Rublev holds to love, so within seconds Nozza is back with the balls and back under pressure at 4-6 4-6 2-3.
A hold apiece at the start of set three on Armstrong while, on Ashe, our players are back with us.
“I’m in an Uber on my way to Flushing Meadow,” brags Tobias Peggs, “from the Bed-Stuy neighbourhood in Brooklyn – about 7 miles away – and it was bone dry there. In fact I had to give my tomatoes an extra watering before I left! Must be some strange microclimates in NYC today. (Though I can confirm – it’s hot as hell!).”
Heat in Bed-Stuy can mean only one thing.
We’re getting close to ready on Ashe, as I notice that, on Labor Day, the US Open is celebrating Military Appreciation Day. I’m not entirely certain what that has to do with tennis.