Rafael Nadal has failed to reach the round of 16 of the U.S. Open for the first time in ten years after blowing out a two-set lead to lose 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 to Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
The Spaniard was two sets and a break up but Fognini started the real tennis business after midnight (in the U.S.), forcing a decider, during which he scooped barrage of break points to tie 4-4 before claiming the win which sends him into the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time ever.
The reality is that Nadal will not win any major this year for the first time since 2005 and the 2013 champion has now suffered his first defeat since losing the 2011 championship match to Novak Djokovic.
Serena charges back
Ask Bethanie Mattek-Sands and she will affirm hardly would any one not want to gate-crash Serena Williams’ pursuit of a historic 22nd Grand Slam title.
The top seed came within two games of losing to her countrywoman on Friday night, having dropped the first set to 30-year-old Minnesota native, Mattek-Sands, who broke her in the ninth game of the second set and then held to tie 5-5.
But the 33-year-old claimed the final eight games to salvage a 3-6 7-5 6-0 win and kept hopes of adding this year’s U.S. Open trophy to her already secured titles from Melbourne, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Up next for Williams will be yet another American, No. 19 seed Madison Keys, Who sailed past 15th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 7-3 6-2.
Serena could meet her older sibling Venus in the quarter-final, following the 23rd seed latter’s 6-3 6-4 cruise against Belinda Bencic.
Eugenie Bouchard, 25th seed, advanced into the second week of the U.S. Open by seeing off Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(11-9) 4-6 6-3 in a match than lasted about three hours.
Elina Svitolina, 17th seed, dismissed 13th seed Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 7-5, while qualifier Annet Kontaveit saw off Madison Brengle 7-5 6-4.
Italy’s Roberta Vinci eliminated Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1 4-7 6-2 and Russia’s Daria Kasatkina lost to Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-3.
Djokovic, Cilic into 4th Round
Novak Djokovic was not spared of some erratic piece of tennis on Friday while facing Ital’s Andreas Seppi but got the job done, 6-3 7-5 7-5.
The Serb’s 10-0 head-to-head unbeaten record against the No. 25 seed was suspect, while he could only get 56% of his serves in, in the first set and being broken by Seppi twice – including while first serving for the match – throughout the 2 hours and 26 minutes duration of the game.
Djokovic will meet Roberto Bautista-Agut in the round of 16 after his third round opponent, David Goffin, retired while trailing the 23rd seed’s 2-6 5-7 6-3 3-1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Marin Cilic was another player to bear it all in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday against the unseeded Kazak, Mikhail Kukushkin, eventually topping a 4-hour-11-minute duel 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-7 6-1. Next up for the defending champion his the high-flying Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Frenchman Chardy, seeded 26th, saw off No. 7 seeded Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 4-6 6-3 6-1 to reach the round of 16 of the U.S. Open for the first time.
Other men’s singles results (Friday)
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) d.  Andreas Seppi (ITA) 63 75 75
 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d.  David Ferrer (ESP) 76(6) 46 63 61
 Fabio Fognini (ITA) d.  Rafael Nadal (ESP) 36 46 64 63 64
 Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 67(5) 76(1) 63 67(3) 61
 Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d.  Milos Raonic (CAN) 62 76(4) 63
 Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) d.  David Goffin (BEL) 26 57 63 31 ret.
 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 63 75 62
Benoit Paire (FRA) d.  Tommy Robredo (ESP) 76(3) 61 61