Former champion Marin Cilic advanced to the Round of 16 at the US Open on Saturday, defeating American John Isner 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 on Grandstand to set up a matchup against Rafael Nadal on Monday.
Cilic, who triumphed in Flushing Meadows in 2014, used a late surge in the third-set tiebreaker to seize control of the match. After an exchange of sets to start the match, both players held serve throughout the third set to force it into a tiebreaker. Isner raced ahead 6-4 and had a set point on serve, but squandered it as Cilic won the breaker’s final four points, the last of which came via an Isner double-fault and a subsequent racquet smash from the American.
In the fourth, Cilic got the lone break he needed at 1-1 as he blasted a crosscourt forehand winner past Isner to take the 2-1 advantage. Isner would have his chances at 3-4, but Cilic saved four break points before holding for 5-3, and went on to serve out the set and match to close out the win in three hours and 19 minutes.
The 22nd seeded Croatian survived an erratic day on his own serve. He hit 17 double faults and had to save 13 break points to hold off Isner.
He now meets second-seed Nadal for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard, who won the title here in 2010, 2013 and 2017, rolled past South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day.
“I didn’t face a breakpoint, that’s a positive thing,” said Nadal on his performance. “And the best thing is without playing great, playing a normal match, I was able to have a very comfortable score. So that means a lot of things, and positive ones.”
Alexander Zverev avoided playing the full five sets for a third consecutive match as he moved past Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(3) inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Zverev awaits the winner of American Tennys Sandgren, the lone man from the United States remaining in the draw, and 20th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
Pablo Andujar was the other winner on the men’s side in the day session, as he defeated Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. He plays the winner of 13th seed Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov next.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org