NEW YORK (AP) — Karolina Pliskova can still win the U.S. Open and keep her No. 1 ranking, thanks to a big comeback Saturday.
Pliskova fought off a match point in the second set and rallied to beat No. 27 Zhang Shuai of China 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round.
The runner-up last year needs to at least return to the final for a chance to remain atop the rankings when the year’s final major tournament is over, and it appeared for a while that the Czech wouldn’t get close.
But she stayed alive while trailing 4-5 in the second set, then pulled out the third after receiving treatment from a trainer on her right forearm between sets.
“Last Grand Slam of the season and knowing you played fine last year, you just want to play that good again,” Pliskova said. “I don’t feel like I’m playing that good again, but I’m still in the draw, actually, so I’m not going to be that sad.”
The top seed on the men’s side also had to rally after dropping the first set. With the roof closed at Arthur Ashe Stadium because of rain, Rafael Nadal started to find the range with his punishing shots in the second set and beat Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.
Roger Federer followed him onto Ashe to face No. 31 Feliciano Lopez.
Federer did not spend any extra time on court and easily eliminated Lopez 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.
After opening a Grand Slam tournament with back-to-back five-setters for the first time in his career, Federer raced through the first two sets in 59 minutes and ended things after 1 hour, 46 minutes.
He improved to 13-0 against Lopez and 33-1 in night matches at Flushing Meadows.
In the fourth round, Federer faces 33rd-seeded Philip Kohlschreiber. Federer is 11-0 against the German.
Besides Pliskova, Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina are the other women who can still get to No. 1. Svitolina advanced to the round of 16 with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over American Shelby Rogers, who won the longest women’s match in U.S. Open history on Thursday when she beat No. 25 Daria Gavrilova in 3 hours, 33 minutes.
This one went 1:33, ending when Svitolina’s forehand hit the tape and barely fell over the net onto Rogers’ side.
Pliskova, who fell to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 final, would need to win the tournament if Muguruza reaches the semifinals and loses. If Muguruza advances to the final, Pliskova would be eliminated from contention for the WTA’s top ranking.
“It’s not only about the points, but I just felt I really can play well here,” said Pliskova, who will next face American Jennifer Brady.
Another American advanced when No. 20 seed CoCo Vandeweghe outlasted No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. No. 15 seed Madison Keys hoped to join them later when she faced No. 17 Elena Vesnina of Russia.
Upsets have scrambled one half of the men’s bracket, but everything is mostly as expected on the other side.
Nadal, Federer, No. 6 Dominic Thiem and No. 9 David Goffin remain alive in their half. No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta is the top seed in the other, which will send a first-time Grand Slam finalist to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the championship match next Sunday.
Thiem eased into the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 30 Adrian Mannarino of France. He will next face No. 24 seed Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 champion swept past No. 11 Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
“I think that bottom half of the draw is going to be surprising for one guy. But in the top half, you have Roger and Rafa, Dominic, as well, and they are favorites to win a Grand Slam title, for sure,” del Potro said.
Goffin won his match when No. 18 Gael Monfils of France retired with knee, back and arm injuries with Goffin leading 7-5, 5-1.
Also advancing were No. 33 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, a straight-sets winner over Australian John Millman, and Alexandr Dolgopolov, who routed Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-0, 6-4.
Dolgopolov is into the fourth round for the first time since 2011 and would be the next opponent for Nadal, but was peppered in his post-match news conference about questions related to a match he was involved in recently in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that’s under scrutiny because of unusual betting patterns.
The match is being assessed but is not yet under formal investigation, Tennis Integrity Unit spokesman Mark Harrison said earlier this week.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, but not more,” Dolgopolov said. “If people want to write something, they write something. You can’t stop them from doing it. It’s just not under my control.”
French Open women’s champion Jelena Ostapenko was ousted with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)