Babolat Enhances Pure Storm Line with exclusive GT Technology

Boulder, Colorado – August 11, 2009 – Babolat, leading manufacturer of tennis racquets,
announces that the Babolat Pure Storm line has been enhanced with GT Technology. The Pure
Storm tennis racquets offer total control through accuracy and stability and now have an added
performance boost with the addition of Babolat’s exclusive GT Technology.

Babolat first launched the Pure Storm line in 2007 and Team Babolat player Fernando Gonzalez
(#11 ATP) has experienced tremendous success using the Pure Storm Tour+ model. Gonzalez
says that his Pure Storm has provided him with the control and power he needs for good
results.

Adding the GT Technology to the Pure Storm gives the racquets more responsiveness, power
and 100% more energy restitution. This comes from the tungsten in the yoke. Control, stiffness
and feel remain the same from the distribution of carbon and tungsten. The Pure Storm
racquets also include Babolat’s Woofer System, the first technology on the market linking the
frame and strings to provide more control and feel.

GT Technology

GT technology is a customized performance booster with a hybrid material that combines
braided carbon fibers and tungsten filaments, which is integrated throughout the entire racquet.
This improves the racquet’s overall construction and strengthens the frame to reduce torque for
more precision. Adding tungsten also provides 10% additional energy recovery for even more
power. This is all done without altering the racquet’s feel. GT Technology can be found in all
new Pure Storm models.

Babolat is also launching a new co-polymer polyester monofilament string perfectly suited for
the Pure Storm. Revenge string complements the control of the Pure Storm with power and
spin.

The new 2009 Pure Storm Range
Available in tennis pro and specialty stores August 18, 2009.
Pure Storm Tour and Pure Storm Tour +
For the expert player with a full swing
Head size: 98 sq. in.
Weight: 11.3 oz. (unstrung)
Balance point: 10 pts. HL
Length: 27 in./ 27.5 in.
Technologies: GT, Woofer
Suggested retail price (unstrung): $179.00

Pure Storm
For the expert player with a medium to full swing
Head size: 98 sq. in.
Weight: 10.4 oz. (unstrung)
Balance point: 6 pts. HL
Length: 27 in.
Technologies: GT, Woofer
Suggested retail price (unstrung): $179.00

Pure Storm Limited
For the expert player with a full swing
Head size: 95 sq. in.
Weight: 11.3 oz. (unstrung)
Balance point: 12 pts. HL
Length: 27 in.
Technologies: GT, Woofer
Suggested retail price (unstrung): $179

ABOUT BABOLAT
Founded in Lyon, France, in 1875, Babolat is the first company to have specialized in racquet
sports and the world leader in the production of natural gut strings. Easily recognized by its
trademark “double-line” (two stripes on the racquet frame and black on the stringing bed),
Babolat is still family-owned. Today, with U.S. operations in Boulder, Colorado, the company
also manufactures synthetic strings, shoes, accessories and a best-selling line of racquets.
Babolat equips 20% of the top 100 players in the ATP and WTA including Rafael Nadal (Spain,
#2 ATP), Andy Roddick (USA, #5 ATP) and Dinara Safina (RUSSIA, #1 WTA). To find out
where Babolat products are sold, log on to www.babolat.com or call (877) 316-9435.

Del Potro Beats Up A Beaten Up Nadal

There will be no Federer-Nadal final. Thanks to a virtuoso performance by Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro, that will have to wait at least another year at the U.S. Open.

“I’m sorry,” del Potro told a chuckling crowd which he earlier thanked for their support at his favorite event while speaking with ESPN’s Darren Cahill. “But tomorrow, I’ll fight until the final point for you, for everyone, to show good tennis.”

“It’s part of my dream, you know. I’m very close to do it, but this moment is so nice, and I always dreamed of this moment.

I’m very happy to beat Rafa in straight sets, play unbelievable match. Of course it’s great for me and for my future being in finals.”

The 20 year-old Del Potro had other ideas playing remarkable tennis to dominate one of the game’s best, crushing Rafael Nadal in the first men’s semifinal 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 before a stunned Ashe Stadium in Flushing this afternoon.

Maybe the wear and tear finally caught up to the six-time grand slam winner who was playing a day after dismantling Fernando Gonzalez with a heavily wrapped stomach due to an abdominal strain he’d nursed throughout the final slam of the season. Even if the gutsy 23 year-old Spaniard wasn’t at his peak, a lot of that had to do with his opponent who played a perfect match to make his first ever slam final where he’ll await the winner between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic taking place later.

“I think this is the best moment of my life,” the excited del Potro said after becoming the first Argentine to reach the men’s final since Guillermo Vilas in 1977 to a nice reception.

“Just have to congratulate him,” said Nadal who had nothing to be ashamed of.

In his first Open semi, a locked in Del Potro just had too much in his arsenal turning the match into a rout. The six games he permitted was the worst beating Nadal had ever taken in a slam match with only Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faring worse when he dropped seven games in a 2008 Australian Open semifinal.

Unlike his come from behind four set quarter win over Marin Cilic, Del Potro came out sharp firing on all cylinders. Early on, both players had some scintillating rallies making the first few games very long. That included a fun point that had Nadal scrambling even pulling a crowd pleasing tweener which Del Potro volleyed back that a stumbling Rafa couldn’t finish off.

Nadal had his chances including an early opportunity to break but with his bread and butter forehand setup, he missed just wide blowing it which allowed Del Potro to crawl out of the third game. That would be a common theme with the younger Argentinian serving out of trouble by fighting off all five break chances while he remained aggressive, converting six of 16 on Nadal’s serve.

The first break came in the next game. After Nadal couldn’t put it away, a hustling Del Potro forced a backhand volley long that gave him an early 3-1 lead. A frustrated Rafa tapped his leg perhaps realizing how crucial that moment was.

Nadal tried to come back but Del Potro served well all day with the sun peering out following the dreary weather that caused so many scheduling gliches. When he needed a big serve, the lanky 6-6 fifth year pro took advantage of his big frame to find the angles forcing errant replies. He only had six aces but it felt like more due to the velocity and placement which gave Nadal trouble. For the match, Del Potro won 79 percent on his first serve (44 of 56) compared to 57 percent (40 of 70) for his more accomplished foe.

“I played a great match. I was so focused with my serve, with every breakpoints, playing serve, you know, trying to put the ball into the court and trying to be aggressive,” explained del Potro of why it went so well.

Still down a break at 2-5, Nadal tried to hold serve and stay in the set but ultimately, he was outhit by Del Potro who mixed in a lethal backhand which drew miscues off the normally solid Rafa forehand. The firepower he came with was too much closing the set with a forehand winner.

Undeterred, Nadal continued to throw everything at Del Potro and had a slight opening in the first game of the second set. But once again, the sixth seed used his serve to get out of trouble with a couple of service winners flustering Nadal. The combination of his bigger serve along with penetrating groundstrokes gave him a decided edge finishing with 14 more winners (33-19).

If not for Rafa’s speed and competitiveness, it could’ve been a lot more. Instead, Del Potro who stepped inside the baseline to control rallies earned more unforced errors off Nadal’s racket. A rarity. He committed 27 to Del Potro’s 28. Not bad but given how big the player who beat him in Montreal last month was hitting, it was easy to see why the French Open semifinalist had entered winning 16 of his last 17 since Wimbledon.

It didn’t take long for Del Potro to break earning another on a double fault for a 3-1 lead. With the crowd trying to rally the struggling Nadal, Rafa continued to put in a maximum effort running down every ball. However, Del Potro just wouldn’t miss.

Even when there was a slight opening, it was closed quickly. Up 5-2, Del Potro didn’t slow down breaking Nadal a fourth time to go up two sets. Despite only dropping four games at that point, he still needed an average of 50.5 minutes to win the sets giving an indication of how hard Rafa tried even when it wasn’t his day.

“The first two sets was 6 2, but I have a lot of chances, I think. A lot of chance to keep the score more tight. If it’s like this, you never know what happened. But nothing to do today,” Nadal pointed out.

By the third set, the outcome looked certain. Nadal continued to compete but a streaking Del Potro didn’t take his foot off the gas pedal accelerating with more tremendous hitting that featured some wicked winners including an inside out forehand and a backhand cross that was Agassi-like.

So dominant was he from the ground that he pinned Nadal behind the baseline even finishing off points at the net where he did well converting 71 percent (17 of 24).

“I saw Rafa in the baseline, but too far away on the baseline. That’s important for me to come to the net and to do a short point.”

Del Potro also punished Rafa’s second serve taking 14 of 20 points. While he struggled himself in that department dropping 17 of 29, they weren’t frequent enough and never came at critical moments.

Already leading by a break 5-2, he went for the kill easily breaking Nadal a sixth time when the 2009 Australian Open champion sent a forehand way long for the biggest win of his career.

An overjoyed Del Potro pumped his fists in almost disbelief before receiving congrats from a wounded Nadal, who made no excuses in a brief postmatch interview with ESPN’s Pam Shriver.

“Here, it was disappointing, I had a little bit of a (bad) break,” Nadal said while giving Del Potro his due. “The right abdominal. To compete with these players was difficult.”

“I did a good result, very positive result for me after coming back. Semifinals. Today he played better than me. He beat me, and right now I just try to recover. Is not very important injury, so that’s really important for me, too.”

Most players after such a defeat would’ve dodged the questions and walked off the court. But not Nadal who even was nice enough to sign autographs for fans winning even more.

A night before, we saw the worst in a player who lost her mind handling a tough situation very poorly typifying what’s wrong with today’s athletes. Today, even in defeat, we saw what’s very right and why Rafa Nadal is so easy to respect and root for.

It just wasn’t his day. Today was about a rising star who should move up to No.5 in the world no matter what happens in tomorrow’s Monday final to be seen on CBS at 1 PM.

“I think so,” del Potro assessed on if it was his best win. “It was so focused every moment because Rafa’s a great player. He can run for 5, 6 hours. I’m not very strong but I do my best, and I’m in the final.”

“I don’t remember, but I think was I saw the stadium too big, and I say, This will be my favorite tournament.”

Now he’s one match away from winning it.

“I hope to be quiet for tomorrow to enjoy the moment, but could be difficult for me, because I never play a Grand Slam final.

“But I have the game to win tomorrow. I just want to be focused with my tennis and try to beat Roger or Novak.”

When the Rain Stops, The Matches Are Great

Will the rain ever stop? They’re praying it will so that the women can actually get their semis in sometime tonight.

Caroline Wozniacki takes on Yanina Wickmayer in the first match moved to Louis Armstrong. And the second semi pits reigning champ Serena Williams against comeback queen Kim Clijsters who has proven that she still has quite a bit of game even though she took two years off to get married and now has 18-month old daughter Jade following her.

Can the former 2005 Open winner rundown enough balls and hit with enough variety versus the powerful Serena, who is looking to make it three slams this year and four of the last five? Yet that’s not good enough to be ranked No.1. Everyone already has Williams taking the trophy but figure her to get a fight from the feisty 26 year-old from Belgium.

Though Serena has gone out of her way to praise Kim saying how she admires her, you know once they get out on Ashe, it’s on. And she’ll also be aiming for a measure of revenge for older sis Venus, who Clijsters ousted two previous rounds receiving plenty of love. So, the 11-time grand slam winner has plenty of incentive.

We’re just glad the men were finally able to complete the quarter that got suspended by a heavy downpour Thursday night. Even if poor Fernando Gonzalez offered token resistance, allowing Rafael Nadal to win the final four points of a crucial second set tiebreaker before getting bageled.

So, here’s Rafa again showing the tremendous heart in spite of the abdominal strain which was ailing him the other night. That the 23 year-old kid from Mallorca can give you this much effort when the odds are stacked against him tells us all we need to know about him. He’s two matches from making history by completing a career grand slam.

Don’t forget he beat Federer in five down under this year before Robin Soderling got him at Roland Garros and then Nadal couldn’t even defend his Wimbledon crown due to balky knees. Now, he will face tough sixth seeded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro in one semi tomorrow. So, it won’t be easy against a player who has proven to be an excellent hard courter posting a 16-1 mark since Wimbledon. The last time they met, Del Potro won in straights at Montreal before losing to Andy Murray in the final.

The other semifinal hasn’t gotten much talk even though it’s Federer trying to keep his bid to match Bill Tilden’s six straight Opens alive against fourth seeded Serb Novak Djokovic. Here’s the kicker. They’re only meeting a third consecutive year with Feds prevailing in the 2007 final and last year’s semi in four sets going onto a fifth championship in a row over Murray.

So, even without Murray or Andy Roddick, there’s plenty of star power/storylines which will make the men’s Final Four compelling.

Let’s just hope the ladies can get their matches in tonight which is asking a lot with the weather not cooperating. Wozniacki is coming off her impressive 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over new 17 year-old American sweetheart Melanie Oudin, whose run captivated everyone.

What the 19 year-old blonde bombshell from Denmark did was come in with a great strategy using her speed to play excellent defense while mixing in a consistent topspin forehand that forced Oudin to go for more resulting in unforced errors.

The ninth seed is a good player and this has been expected. She had never before made it past the fourth round until this tournament. But after disappointing results at the first three slams, Wozy has stepped up following her win in New Haven. Her game is a breath of fresh air in that she doesn’t just rely on power but on precision along with solid D to stay in points. Something which frustrated former Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Dane’s come from behind three set Round of 16 win.

Aside tom the consistency is the wonderful smile which can win crowds over as can her positive attitude, even admitting that when it got interesting early in the second set versus fan favorite Oudin, she didn’t show any frustration because the wise teen had used any negativity in her upsets over the big Russians to her edge.

Now, there will be even more pressure with Wozniacki facing another 19 year-old in Wickmayer. A player she knows well from juniors. Thus far, the Belgian has had a breakthrough of her own to reach this point. That included a first round straight set upset of No.16 seed Virginie Razzano and a come from behind three set Round Two triumph over Shuai Peng.

Wickmayer also had to show mettle rallying from a set down to defeat Dinara Safina conqueror Petra Kvitova in the fourth round. Even her quarter win over Kateryna Bondarenko got dicey when after sneaking out the first set late, she fell behind 1-4 having to save break points before righting herself to reel off the last five games for the big win.

Not bad for a player who’d never surpassed the second round of a major. Wickmayer hits a bigger ball than Wozniacki. So, she’ll likely be going for more while the counterpunching Wozniacki will try to use a similar gameplan that worked so well against Oudin. The contrast in style should make for an intriguing match.

Now if only the rain would go away.

Nadal Shows Only Love for Gonzo

It was the tennis equivalent of No Mas. A day and a half following the rain, Rafael Nadal finished off Fernando Gonzalez in the continuation of their men’s quarterfinal.

The charismatic 23 year-old from Mallorca took back his No.2 ranking, barely breaking a sweat in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-0 win advancing to a second consecutive U.S. Open semifinal where he’ll meet a well rested Juan Martin Del Potro tomorrow for a place in the final versus either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

A competitive quarter which had Nadal in front 7-6, 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker Thursday night suddenly became a tuneup for Nadal, who allowed his wild opponent to wilt under the pressure. In fact, Gonzalez didn’t get another point in the tiebreak dropping both points on his serve with dreadful forehands before Rafa closed the set out.

“When you come back in one situation like today, anything can happen, because it’s a little bit of a lottery depending on the first two points,” Nadal accurately assessed. “The important thing is to be ready to accept everything, and try to arrive there knowing what to do.”

Unfortunately, Gonzalez’ biggest weapon let him down to the tune of more than half his 59 unforced errors. It only got worse as he unraveled in the third set disappointing the Session 23 Ashe spectators who returned hoping for a much better conclusion. After a double fault handed Nadal a break in the opening game, the flustered 29 year-old slammed his racket in disgust.

“I can’t tell you, because I don’t have the answer,” a dejected Gonzalez said.

It wouldn’t get any better as he committed 20 miscues in a set that saw him get bageled with even an injury timeout to remove tape from his ankles unable to stop the bleeding. By comparison, the much more consistent Nadal made only 13 errors all match. The problem for Gonzalez was that he kept going for too much with the ball flying on him in different conditions. So, Rafa was content to keep rallies going allowing his struggling opponent to come undone in an ugly set that had fans feeling sorry for Gonzo.

The lowlights included a sloppy forehand half volley way wide for another break and fittingly ended with another forehand into the net as Nadal got off the court in just 33 minutes.

“Fernando had a few more mistakes than the last day,” Nadal said after pulling within a win of a possible date against Federer with plenty of work still to be done for both. “That helped me a little more.”

That such a promising match turned into a worst nightmare for the poor 11th seeded Chilean who will still move up in the rankings was too bad. He just couldn’t deal with the elements breaking down in front of his Dad who by the end looked down, feeling for what his son experienced.

For Nadal who admitted to CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez that the extra rest was the best thing for his abdominal strain, it was a best case scenario.

“It was important to have one day off to recover a little better,” he pointed out. “Today, I feel well.”

“I’m OK,” Nadal added. “I have only a little bit of a problem in the abdominal. That’s it.”

Though he’s nursing the injury and faces a tough opponent who beat him last month in Montreal 7-6 (1), 6-1, the feisty Spaniard who’s trying to complete a career grand slam might even be fresh for the rematch on the big stage. However, it should be a much harder test than how today finished.

“He’s [Del Potro] good. I think he’s a complete player, and it’s always the same thing,” Nadal said. “Try to be ready to put one more ball (back) than the rest.”

At the very least, the Open will have a first time finalist in the battle between Spain’s best and Argentina’s which may as well be a Davis Cup match.

Expect a fun atmosphere along with an entertaining brand of tennis.

It’s A Washout In Flushing Meadows

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s a washout here at the Open and all matches are moved to tomorrow.

That means today – Session 23 on your tickets – will be honored tomorrow with Rafael Nadal resuming his match with Fernando Gonzalez at 12 noon, although weather may dictate that match may be moved to 2 p.m.

I will be followed by the Mens Doubles Finals and then the first Women’s Semifinal of Yanina Wickmayer against Caroline Wozniacki.

Tomorrow night – and not before 8 p.m. – the Serena Williams vs Kim Clijsters matchup will take place.

On Sunday, Session 24 tickets will be honored (the ones for originally for Saturday afternoon). The two men’s Semifinal matches will take place. Right now they don’t know the order. Also taking place tentatively is the Court of Champions ceremony, and that will take place after the first match.

Now the USTA is working with their television partners to put the Women’s final at 9 p.m. If they can then Session 25 tickets will be honored for that day. If they can’t then the  men’s semifinal matches will take place concurrently with the women to follow afterwards.

If Williams wins her match then they will move the Women’s Doubles to Monday, otherwise it will be on Sunday if Clijsters wins.

On Monday, Session 26 tickets will be honored and the Men’s finals will take place around 5 p.m. Yet, that is not entirely confirmed yet.

Sound confusing? Sure, but if you have ticket, just remember to push it back a day. Friday’s tickets for tomorrow. Saturday tickets on Sunday and then Sunday ticket on Monday.

Nadal/Gonzalez Suspended Along with Fans

A really good men’s quarter between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez was suspended due to incoming rain. The entertaining match to take on previous winner Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis had already been stopped twice and apparently, reports of more rain made it impossible to complete before disappointed Ashe spectators who patiently waited it out.

What they did at least get were two high quality sets in which neither player broke with Nadal leading 7-6 (4), 3-2 in a second set tiebreaker. Despite a visit from the trainer along with a three-minute injury timeout to treat his strained abdominal muscle, the gritty No.3 seeded Spaniard was in front thanks to fighting off two set points in the 12th game of the opening set- getting a little help from Gonzalez who had a soft 92 mph second serve but misfired a return forehand.

The set went to a tiebreak where Nadal proved to be more consistent playing superb defense while Gonzalez self-destructed contributing a few of his 18 unforced errors including a wild forehand to give the six-time grand slam winner the set.

That’s when an ailing Rafa was visited by the trainer before action continued. Neither player changed their strategy much in a gunslinger second set where Gonzalez continued to pound away against the counter punching Nadal whose defense made it increasingly tough for the 11th seeded Chilean to find any momentum.

The first rain delay came at two all lasting exactly an hour. When they returned, it looked like they might get the rest of the set in which included three huge saves by Gonzalez to get out of trouble in the 10th game. He fought off three set points delivering with a pair of service winners and a monstrous forehand into an open court. Two more big forehands down the line allowed him to hold for five all.

Each then held to force another breaker. Unlike the first one which Gonzalez fell behind in 1-4, he and Nadal exchanged mini-breaks thanks to great defense forcing errors to make it 2-3. But with Gonzalez ready to serve, a few drops came making wild conditions which already included swirling winds impossible to continue.

The players first sat in their chairs hopeful it would pass but eventually went back to the locker room thanks to another rain delay.

As the clock struck midnight, returning fans clapped expecting the players to return to a dried court ready to do battle. Unfortunately, veteran chair umpire Pascal Maria delivered the bad news to some jeers and “Ohhhh’s and Awwww’s.”

Who could blame them? If only the USTA had enough common sense to plan ahead. Would it have really hurt to move the two doubles matches to Louis Armstrong?

What they could’ve done was keep the mixed doubles championship on Ashe while asking the Williams sisters to play on Armstrong due to the weather forecast. While that might not have been too popular a decision, at least it would’ve made sense with the popular Serena and Venus Williams playing a women’s doubles semifinal they prevailed in the old stadium so the men could at least get the final quarterfinal in.

Now, the winner will have to play consecutive days and potentially three which could really be a disadvantage the rest of the weekend. Had they been more prepared, it also wouldn’t have been such an inconvenience for fans who paid hard earned money to see a high quality match.

What happens now? They’re screwed because as Maria sadly announced, Session 22 was considered complete. On the official U.S. Open site, the following message reads:

We are currently planning to play the Friday day session # 23 as scheduled. Due to weather, we recommend you continue to check USOpen.org for weather and scheduling updates.

The big question is what does this do to the two women’s semis scheduled for later today with Caroline Wozniacki taking on Yanina Wickmayer while Serena battles Kim Clijsters. Originally, the first match between the ninth seeded Wozniacki and unseeded Wickmayer is supposed to go off at 12:30 today with the battle of champions to follow.

Why not move the ladies back allowing Gonzalez and Nadal to complete their match on Ashe? It all depends on the weather which while not expected to be as bad, could be sketchy with possible rain.

Complicating matters is that the men’s doubles final between fourth seeded Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes and third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles was supposed to be played on Ashe at approximately 3:30 PM.

If you go by the emergency schedule, they list Nadal-Gonzalez not before 2 PM with a possible relocation to Armstrong. Apparently, that option is also available for Wozniacki-Wickmayer and the doubles championship.

It wouldn’t be fair to move the ladies to Armstrong as each has earned their place on center stage at Ashe. Something they’d never consider for Williams-Clijsters.

Shouldn’t the guys get theirs in as early as possible due to having to go on Super Saturday against a more rested Del Potro? One would think so. But that’s the dilemma facing the USTA due to CBS. With three networks covering the final grand slam, this shouldn’t be such an issue. But thanks to CBS who has exclusive rights the rest of the event including the women’s semis and men’s doubles final slotted between 12:30-6 PM, it’s a dicey situation for viewers.

Unless you have high speed internet access, you’re likely to get the shaft in terms of missing either the Nadal-Gonzalez conclusion or Wozniacki-Wickmayer which definitely isn’t fair.

Oh. CBS will do the best job possible moving between venues to update. But it kinda sucks if you’re a hardcore tennis fan.

These two weeks have been kind to New York with last night the first rain interrupted session. You almost never can make it through one slam without at least one of these situations arising.

We just wish the USTA had done a better job planning with the biggest weekend ahead.

Match Notes:

Gonzalez drops first set in tiebreak to Nadal 7-6 (4).

-Gonzalez hit big striking more than double winners (16-7) while also serving 5 aces to keep serve during tight set.

-But Nadal saved 2 set points with one huge Gonzalez forehand return netted on a 92 MPH 2nd serve.

-In tiebreak, Rafa took a 4-1 lead thanks to more consistency. Gonzalez miscues including a wild forehand handed him the set. Nadal made just four errors while Fernando committed 18.

-At end of set, trainer visited Nadal treating his injured abdominal muscle.

2nd Set

-Nadal and Gonzalez on serve 2 all when rain suspends play for first time all tournament.

-1 hour rain delay

-No breaks of serve

-10th game gusts fly up blowing things around and Gonzo stops to watch trying to stay in set. Nadal then plays amazing D getting to possible winners drawing an errant overhead for 0-30. Double hands Nadal 2 set points. 2 service winners save them.

-3rd set point on long backhand in memorable 10th game. On set point after great Gonzo save, tennis ball blows onto court for let. Weird. On let, Gonzo shows heart with forehand winner into open court saving another pumping self up. Gonzalez then wins challenge for forehand winner on line. Another cross court forehand gives him big hold.

-Nadal holds at love for 6-5 putting pressure on Fernando, who holds easily for another breaker.

-Rafa plays great defense forcing long forehand to earn mini-break for 2-1.

-Gonzo comes back drawing Nadal backhand miss to earn mini back for 2-2.

-At 3-2 Nadal, rain drops suspend play again and players go to locker room after waiting to see if it would stop.

-Over an hour delay again as they ready court with tiebreak on serve with Gonzalez to serve 2-3.

-With reports of more rain as the court was dry and ready to go with fans who stayed excited, play is officially suspended ending Session No.22 to the dismay of those who stuck around, throwing a wrinkle into Friday’s Session 23 that includes both women’s semis and the men’s doubles final.

Del Potro Ends Cilic’s Run

In his first grand slam quarterfinal, Marin Cilic gave it his best but ultimately it was the higher ranked Juan Martin Del Potro who proved too much. The 20 year-old sixth seeded Argentine continued to ride the wave, rallying from a set and break down to dispatch the No.16 Croat 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 at Ashe Stadium this afternoon in Flushing.

Del Potro advanced to his first ever U.S. Open semifinal improving on last year’s quarter result. Now, he’ll await the winner between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez in tonight’s final quarter.

“It’s so beautiful playing in front of this crowd,” an excited Del Potro said acknowledging the fun atmosphere. “I’m so happy it happened this way.”

In the early going, Cilic dealt better with windy conditions looking intent on pulling another upset. Fresh off his straight set destruction of Andy Murray, he didn’t look out of place. Carrying momentum from that big win, the lanky 20 year-old who will move up in the rankings used the same powerful serve and huge forehand to give the favorite fits.

If one of the game’s best returners couldn’t get a read on it, Del Potro certainly struggled with Cilic’s serve making for a tough opening set that saw the underdog hitting out taking it to one of the tour’s best hardcourt players. In the fifth game, he ran into trouble when after fighting off two break points, the Argentine couldn’t save a third thanks in large part to some great hustle from his opponent who made a running forehand pass to earn a 3-2 lead.

Continuing to get in a high percentage of first serves, Cilic backed it up with big forehands outplaying Del Potro. Though he put up a fight in the 10th game saving one set point due to a nice lob, the Argentine couldn’t get back on serve with a forced miss allowing a pumped up Croat to close the set.

It continued to look dicey early in the second set when following a quick hold, Cilic broke for 2-0. But Del Potro stayed in it by climbing out of a Love-30 hole in the fifth game. Upping the tempo, he took the next four points holding for 2-3.

Apparently, he was just getting warmed up. Indeed, Del Potro’s memory bank was still fresh with ESPN analyst Darren Cahill noting that in their only head-to-head meeting in a fourth round Australian Open match this year, he rallied from a similar deficit winning in four sets.

More focused, Del Potro started to turn the tables hitting with more pace including a big forehand that supplied several of his 27 winners. Two less than his opponent whose signature shot suddenly went off spraying three wild forehands in the sixth game to square the set at three apiece.

With renewed confidence, Del Potro broke again en route to running off the final five games. But before he leveled the match, Cilic made things interesting saving two set points with big backhands, eventually earning a chance of his own to get back on serve. Facing the pressure, Del Potro calmly served an ace up the tee, then took the next pair of points with a service winner drawing him even at a set apiece.

Could Cilic respond? The definitive answer was no as he was broken a third consecutive time in the opening game of the third set. Following an easy hold, Del Potro had taken seven consecutive games before a Cilic love hold finally ended it.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep it going dropping serve again two games later falling behind 1-4 due to Del Potro taking the last four points including a Cilic netted forehand.

Following a Cilic hold, the rejuvenant Del Potro easily served the set out at love clinching it on a Cilic backhand into the net. By that point, the difference was apparent with the more polished player dealing with over 20 mph winds better by keeping balls in while his opponent cracked committing 37 unforced errors to Del Potro’s 20.

“I was thinking, every point, do the same, try to put the ball in the court,” Del Potro pointed out after improving to 16-1 since a second round Wimbledon exit to Lleyton Hewitt with the only other defeat coming to the departed Murray who got him at Montreal.

“When you fight that way to the final point, you have many chances and that’s what happened today.”

Though five days separate their birthdays later this month, it’s the older Del Potro who showed his mettle, with his consistency proving too much for Cilic to overcome with the Croat finishing with 29 more miscues (53-24).

“He was not missing,” explained Cilic while also noting the difference in conditions as well as why he was more successful the other day.

“Andy [Murray], he doesn’t have as much power as Del Potro has,” Cilic said. “And it was a little bit hotter that day and the ball was going through the court more and jumping much more.”

With a first Open semi in sight, Del Potro used some great defense to save game point, eventually converting another break for 1-0 in set four. It only worsened for Cilic who was broken a sixth time thanks to more brilliant shotmaking from Del Potro, who this time came up with a perfect running backhand topspin lob delighting the crowd and himself.

Suspense all but ended when he broke for 5-0 making it 16 of the last 18 games before Cilic earned one last break so he wouldn’t get bageled. The only problem was it was his first since early in the second when he was still in control. Now, it had come way too late.

Having solved Cilic’s serve by stepping in on seconds, Del Potro fittingly closed it by making it a perfect eight for eight on break opportunities with a wide Cilic forehand insuring his place into the final four. He took 17 of the last 20 games.

Can he take it one step further and make his first ever slam final?

“I cannot start the match like today,” Del Potro accurately stated. “I was thinking about other things, and the weather was bad. But it was bad for both players. I just need to be in focus in the beginning of the match until the last point and play my game.”

We won’t know till Super Saturday.

Rafa Bulls Past Monfils

Rafael Nadal is from Spain. So, he knows a thing or two about bulls. That was evident in the No.3 seed’s come from behind four set win over frenetic Frenchman Gael Monfils, advancing to a U.S. Open quarterfinal against No.11 Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who earlier on Day Nine ousted No.7 Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

The 13th seed certainly put on a great show using his athleticism to stay in long rallies entertaining a packed Ashe Stadium but ultimately it was Nadal’s bulllike mentality that allowed him to come away with a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win in what was a fun match that lasted two hours and  45 minutes.

Early on, Monfils proved why he was so dangerous breaking Nadal early to jump out to a 5-2 lead. However, that didn’t discourage the six-time grand slam winner who after holding broke back and then held suddenly squaring the first set at five all. Fittingly, an ultracompetitive set that saw plenty of action packed rallies with each player pushing the other all over the court needed a tiebreaker.

In it, it was the flying Frenchman who made all the right shots plays pulling out the breaker when he forced an errant Nadal shot, letting out an emphatic scream while pointing to his heart after taking it.

“No, no, I think I came back well in the 5 4 playing very good game to break back. And in the tiebreak he didn’t had any mistake with his serve. He play all first serves, so he beat me the first set, was tough,” Nadal said.

“But I still there, and physically it was tough for both. But I think for him a little bit more.”

Up a set, before Monfils could blink, a determined Nadal broke early in the second set and seemed on his way to leveling things. But just when it looked that way, here came Monfils right back with a magnificent game to break back for 3-4. So pumped was he after winning some wild exchanges with one going 31 strokes, it looked like he had a shot at an upset and his first Open quarterfinal.

As often happens though with Nadal, you just can’t count him out. Fittingly with ESPN’s John McEnroe noting that the 23 year-old from Mallorca would ‘come even harder’, that’s exactly what happened making for one of the most memorable games of the tournament. With Monfils trying to draw even at four, the two played some unbelievable points that seemed to take forever mesmerizing the crowd.

Following two successful exchanges, a pumped up Monfils pointed to his chest. Two points from drawing even, the point of the match came with Monfils and Nadal going toe to toe. About half a dozen times, it looked like the Frenchman had the point won but a desperate Rafa randown a shot just stabbing back a slice backhand to stay in it. Eventually, he drew a miss to get to 30-All, then pumping his fists. Possibly tired, Monfils lost the next two points to drop serve falling behind 3-5.

“I think I get a little fatigue. Also, Rafa playing good. It’s credit to him. He played more deep, more, heavy, more flight on his shot,” Monfils admitted.

Serving to square it wasn’t easy for Nadal who got plenty of resistance from a focused Monfils, who fought off three set points with great backhand winners. Instead of falling apart, the 2009 Australian Open champ got even stingier winning a tough point setting up a fourth set point to which he gave a double pump. After finally closing it out, he pounded his chest as if to say, ‘Bring it on!’

“I think it was a bit tough to keep going like that, to take the ball. I think I stepped back a little bit and just give him I think more time and more time to set up,” assessed Monfils. “And also, I think today he played very good, very good. His defense was very, very strong today. So I mean, this where I think the change for me.”

“Yeah, first two sets was really tough, really hard physically and I think the tennis was very good level,” said Nadal in agreement.

Perhaps the quality of the play took something out of Monfils. Either that or the moment got to him because he put up token resistance in a 28-minute third set that saw Nadal stick to the strategy of working his opponent over to the point of exhaustion. After some rallies, he was bent over trying to catch his breath.

Nadal took full advantage breaking three times in the set with the second for 4-1 resulting in the trainer coming out to retape Monfils’ wrist. With little left in the tank, he lost the next two games firing a wild forehand way long to hand Nadal a two sets to one lead.

Was there anything left for a comeback which an enthusiastic Ashe wanted to see even chanting, “Mon—fils, Mon—fils, Mon—fils” after he dropped serve to fall down an early break.

At first, it worked as he bounced back breaking Nadal while frequently talking to himself as if to say, ‘You can do it.’

But following a feisty Nadal hold for 4-3, Monfils finally cracked getting broken at love donating the eighth game with four errors including a pair of doubles that gave him an eighth service break in 14 attempts. By comparison, his opponent also did good going three for six but was silenced when it really mattered.

“I mean, I had like a lot practice behind me, and just come out with few match and a little bit practice,” pointed out Monfils who missed Wimbledon with an injury and had played only three matches entering the Open.

“So didn’t have that confidence also to keep going, didn’t have the miles in my legs. If I played maybe six tournaments before the US Open even, I think it will be more than an hour, 30 minutes. It can be two hours and maybe push him when I’m back in second set at 4 3.”

A cool Nadal then served out the match drawing one last of Monfils’ 63 unforced errors, advancing to a third Open quarter. Last year, he improved by making the semis before departing at the hands of upset victim Andy Murray, who oddly enough he just passed again to regain the No.2 ranking.

Afterwards, a very pleased Nadal thanked the crowd for their support even getting some unexpected love from a fan who ran onto the court to take a pic before Open Security took the grinning stranger away.

“No, for me it wasn’t the problem. The guy was really nice,” Nadal chuckled, then adding:

Yes. He was a great fan. He said, I love you, and he kiss me.”

Even the unexpected doesn’t faze him. He’ll try to keep it going against Gonzalez, who figures to be a good challenge.

“Right now, the rest of the tournament I know gonna be very difficult. I have to enjoy it. I must enjoy that, and I must to play very aggressive and the best tactically if I gonna have chances to continuing win any match.”

Might another Rafa vs Roger grand slam final finally happen in the city that never sleeps?

It remained possible after tonight.