Nikoloz Basilashvili with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 win on Sunday to set up a US Open quarter-final match against Dominic Thiem in NY.
Austria's Thiem knocked out South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson - the man who lost in the final to Nadal at Flushing Meadows past year - in three sets earlier on Sunday.
However, the defending champion will have other ideas, and Roger Federer's surprise exit yesterday will have given Nadal even more motivation to seek an 18th Grand Slam title and close the gap on his Swiss rival. Nadal again found himself struggling to cope with a powerful display from an underdog opponent, as Basilashvili unleashed one of the most ferocious broadsides seen in these parts since the Battle of Brooklyn Heights.
Nadal faces Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the final. It has included brief two-set bouts and rugged three-setters, with seven wins for the so-called "King of Clay", and an admirable, tantalizing three victories for his presumed successor.
Juan Martin Del Potro earlier outslugged John Isner in four sets to reach the semi-finals after a towering battle in a sweltering Arthur Ashe Stadium.
After barely getting through a almost 4 1/2-hour test in the third round, and having tape wrapped under his right knee, too, defending champion Rafael Nadal tries to get back to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows by beating 37th-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili. He has now won seven US Open quarter-finals in a row when he's made it that far; his only loss in that round came back in 2006. In a duel with the young Croat Coric from Boric del Potro had problems only in the first set, during which the only time in the game lost his serve.
But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 per cent) and never faced a break point.
"I'll need to play my best match of the tournament".
Now Thiem will try to beat Nadal for the fourth time, saying of their previous matches: "It was three very nice experiences and six awful experiences. Just in a good place, happy", said Isner, whose wife remained home in Texas because she's due to give birth to the couple's first child on September 22. "Then I tried to stay in the match, in some way".
The Argentine sent down nine aces and 33 winners to seal a one-sided victory over the 20th seed in just over two hours, with Coric making 30 unforced errors to undermine his own cause.
Nadal had defeated Thiem in the Roland Garros final in June but this was their first meeting away from a clay court.
Having survived two five-set thrillers to reach the fourth round, Wimbledon runner-up Anderson ran out of steam and bowed out tamely.
But she responded impressively to win 6-0 4-6 6-3 and set up a last-eight clash with eighth seed Pliskova, the last player to beat her at Flushing Meadows in the semi-finals two years ago.
"He has plenty of time to win big tournaments and has everything".