France's Pouille, Monfils face off for spot in US Open semis

"I know he was maybe a bit flat today, so he wanted to close at the net", Monfils said.

Kerber defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 to pile the pressure back on to the American who is looking to break Steffi Graf's record of 186 weeks as the world number one.

Even after the tighter third set, Djokovic was pleased with his night's work. "I [fought] right up to the last ball", said Nadal. I'm going to keep working to try to find it.

Since his first French Open title in 2005, the Spaniard has made a total of 20 Grand Slam finals, advancing to at least quarterfinals every year since 2006.

The Serb has kept himself busy on the practice courts but was happy to cut loose against an actual opponent, making 21-year-old Edmund the target of his arsenal of rifled groundstrokes, angled volleys, pinpoint passing shots, lobs and drop shots.

Fifty-two winners from Nadal - whose attacking response saw him come out a victor on 35 of 48 forays to the net - weren't enough.

The taut battle came down to the fifth-set tiebreaker and Nadal, traiing 3-6, showed his mettle by saving three match points - the third on Pouille's serve.

Nadal - who came to the net far more often than usual - wouldn't concede yet, though, and one forehand victor by him plus two tight forehands by Pouille evened the score.

"I couldn't dream better than this", Pouille said in an on-court television interview after falling to his back in joy as he secured the win after a wild fifth-set tiebreak. I put myself in a position to have the victor and I had the mistake.

"You can not go insane thinking about these kinds of things, no?"

"I have practiced with all the best", he said. I fight till the end. "I think that's why I'm better than the year before". "It's something I'll need to figure out at the end of the year", Vinci said in Italian, with a laugh.

The four-hour, seven-minute contest entranced the crowd in Arthur Ashe stadium.

Pouille, who has now won three successive five-setters to reach the last eight, wasn't intimidated by the massive Ashe stage, even though he only practiced on it a year ago. "I think it is never easy to play quarter-final against a French guy, you know", Monfils told reporters after the two-hour match.

"I put myself in a position again to be one match away from the finals".

Pouille will now face his compatriot Monfils for a spot in the semi-finals, after the latter cruised through against Baghdatis with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 victory. Monfils would take advantage of the only break point he got in the final set as a served his way to his second ever grand slam semi-final.

The remaining round of 16 matches were scheduled for Monday, when world number two Andy Murray will take on Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. The ninth-seeded Tsonga presents a huge step up in competition, though Djokovic owns a 15-6 advantage in the head-to-head series - including a victory in the 2008 Australian Open final for the Serb's first major title.

  • Steve Townsend