NEW YORK — Rafael Nadal is back in the US Open quarterfinals, and he won’t face a rematch of the 2017 final.
Instead, it’s a rematch of this year’s French Open final.
Serena Williams knocked off Kaia Kanepi, who ousted No. 1 seed Simona Halep in the first round, in three sets on Sunday. Later that night, Sloane Stephens cruised past Elise Mertens.
Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem.
Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third US Open title.
Nadal and Thiem will be joined in the quarterfinals by John Isner, who used a booming serve to beat Milos Raonic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Isner, seeded 11th, also defeated Raonic at Wimbledon on the way to a semifinals appearance, his best finish in a Grand Slam. Isner is known for his marathon matches and played another long one in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Isner had the crowd behind him on every point, and the 6-foot-11 American pumped his fist on every winner.
“The crowd just kept me in it,” Isner said. “This atmosphere is like a jungle. It was amazing.”
He improved to 5-1 lifetime against Raonic. Raonic needed treatment on his back after the fourth set.
The 33-year-old Isner is the tournament leader in aces and was nailing them against Raonic with 140 mph serves. He will play either 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro or Borna Coric next.
After clinching his first quarterfinal berth at Flushing Meadows since 2011, Isner’s thoughts flashed to someone who wasn’t at the stadium to celebrate: his wife, Maddie.
She was home, expecting the couple’s first child.
“That’s definitely the most important thing going on right now in my life, more important than this tournament,” Isner said. “But as long as that baby is still in her belly, I’ll be here.”
He keeps his phone ringer on loud and in his bag at all times in case a mad dash home is needed.
The top-ranked Nadal captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what’s now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May.
“He’s a very powerful player, and yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches,” Nadal said. “Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament.”
Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay.
On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set.
Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year’s final was a surprise. At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. He backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament.
“Of course it’s disappointing,” Anderson said. “I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn’t meant to be.”
He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem’s only victory came on clay, his best surface.
But Anderson couldn’t get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point.
“First of all, I served really, really well today,” Thiem said. “Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn’t face one break point, and I didn’t feel so much pressure on service games.”
Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win.
“It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year,” Thiem said. “It was very painful.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.