Rafael Nadal remains on course for his 19th Grand Slam title after a hard-fought quarterfinal win over Diego Schwartzman in the US Open on Thursday. Nadal beat Schwartzman 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. He now stands two wins from year's second Grand Slam title, which would place him one shy of Roger Federer's all-time mark of 20.
Nadal (33) will next play Italy's 24th seed Marco Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in their last eight clash.
Nadal, who won his 18th Grand Slam with a 12th title at Roland Garros in June, is the favourite to win the title with both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer already out of the picture. Apart from than Nadal, all the other semifinalists - Berrettini, Grigor Dimitrov and Daniil Medvedev - have never played in a Grand Slam final. The past 11 Grand Slams have all been won by either Nadal, 32-year-old Djokovic or 38-year-old Federer.
Nadal was made to work as Schwartzman twice rallied from four-game deficits in a stuffy Arthur Ashe stadium.
Nadal raced ahead 4-0 for a great start before the Schwartzman hit back winings four straight games. Nadal came back to take the next two game and clinch the opening set.
The same pattern continued in the second set with Nadal moving a double break up before Schwartzman fought back from 5-1 to level at 5-5. Nadal showed his experience at the crucial moment breaking Schwartzman in the 12th game with his third set point.
In the final set, Nadal wrapped things up quickly, breaking twice without reply to clinch victory in two hours and 46 minutes.
Matteo Berrettini wins thriller against Gael Monfils
Earlier, Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach the US Open semifinals in 42 years on Wednesday to set up a potential showdown with Nadal.
Berrettini, the 24th seed, matched Corrado Barazzutti's run to the last four in 1977 after outlasting 13th-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) in three hours and 57 minutes.
Berrettini joined Barazzutti, 1976 Roland Garros champion Adriano Panatta and Marco Cecchinato as just the fourth Italian to advance to a men's Grand Slam semi-final in singles.
"What a great fight. I think it was one of the best matches I maybe ever saw -- I was playing but I also saw. I'm really happy I don't know what to say," Berrettini said.
The first-time Slam quarter-finalist blew a 5-2 lead in the final set and four match points before finally seeing off Monfils in a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I was lucky I had match points and he didn't have it - it's better when you have them. I'm really proud of myself, I was always focusing on the next point."
A nervous Berrettini doubled-faulted on his first match point at 5-3 before a resolute Monfils fought off two more on his serve to send the deciding set into a tie-break.
Monfils coughed up a costly pair of double faults in the breaker - and 17 in total - as Berrettini surged 5-2 ahead, the Frenchman rescuing a fourth match point before a booming serve from the Italian clinched a memorable win.
"Right now I don't remember any points, just the match point. I remember also my double fault I must be honest," Berrettini said.