In perhaps the biggest shock of the US Open so far, 22-year-old Frenchman Lucas Pouille deafeated fourth seed Rafael Nadal in a nervy, five-set match, ending in a fifth-set tiebreak, before taking the two-time US Open champion out of the tournament.
With Pouille declaring his presence almost immediately, Nadal had managed to pull back to bring the scoreline to a more respectable 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6 and in the final set looked as though he may have been able to pull back for a win; the Spaniard crumbled in the end even as he looked to fight back in the tiebreak.
Pouille led 6-3 in the final set tiebreak, with Nadal scoring three points on the trot to level at 6-6 – bringing himself back into the fight at Flushing Meadows, but his 22-year-old opponent pummeled it back with Nadal, now serving to stay in the match, unable to reach a routine forehand – and now knocked out.
A mammoth 59 winners came off the racquet of the 24th seeded Pouille, who joins fellow Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.
It has been a strong year for Pouille; the young player reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon earlier this year before being knocked out by Tomas Berdych; Pouille has now reached the second Majors quarterfinal of his career.
Conversely, Nadal has not been having a consistent year, and although he pulled off strong title wins at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, has struggled with wrist injuries that saw him sit out Wimbledon after withdrawing from the French Open midway. It has been over a year since Nadal reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, with the Spaniard, then the defending champion, ousted in the quarter-finals of the 2015 French Open by eventual runner-up Novak Djokovic.
Pouille next plays compatriot Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals, with Monfils defeating Cypriot ace Marcos Baghdatis in an easy straight-set victory.