'What is going on': Rafael Nadal in 'inexplicable' drama at US Open

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Rafael Nadal’s quarter-final clash with Diego Schwartzman at the US Open had fans in disbelief, with the opening two sets proving to be an absolute rollercoaster.

Nadal surged into the semi-finals with a straight-sets win, but it was far from straight-forward.

‘OH MY GOODNESS’: Extraordinary anomaly stuns US Open commentators

Nadal stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set, looking like he was about to wipe the floor with his Argentine opponent.

But Schwartzman managed to break back twice and level things at 4-4.

Rafael Nadal suffered two extraordinary collapses before righting the ship. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Nadal then steadied the ship and broke Schwartzman to take the first set 6-4.

If fans weren’t already scratching their heads over the topsy-turvy set, they certainly were moments later when it happened again in the second.

Nadal held a 5-1 lead over a seemingly hapless Schwartzman, before the World No.21 somehow got it back to 5-5.

But just like the first set Schwartzman couldn’t go on with it, losing his serve at the worst time to surrender it 7-5.

Diego Schwartzman was on fire at various stages. (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

“This is inexplicable,” John McEnroe said in commentary for ESPN.

Nadal had it much easier in the third, winning 6-2.

But fans watching at home were gobsmacked by the early drama.

Nadal spoke of "a tough situation" in the first two sets, saying: "I had some mistakes but I am super happy how I accepted the situation and the challenge.

"Being in the semi-finals is super important for me."

Nadal's win at the Arthur Ashe Stadium moved him a step closer to a 19th major title in all, which will be just one short of Swiss ace Roger Federer's record.

Berrettini awaits

Earlier, Italy's Matteo Berrettini advanced to his first grand slam semi-final, beating Frenchman Gael Monfils in a thrilling five-set encounter that went for nearly four exhausting hours.

With both players fighting fatigue and a faulty serve down the stretch, Berrettini eventually triumphed 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5).

Berrettini finally knocked out the No.13 seed on his fifth match point after double-faulting away his first chance long before that.

"Right now I don't remember any points. Just the match point," No.24 seed Berrettini said on court.

Matteo Berrettini celebrates his win. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

"While I was playing I thought, this is one of the best matches I ever saw. I was playing, but I was watching also."

The match that began under muggy conditions ended under the closed roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 3 hours, 57 minutes after it began.

For Berrettini, it marked the latest triumph in a season in which the 23-year-old Italian won titles in Budapest and Stuttgart en route to a career-high ranking of 20th in June.

with AAP