NEW YORK - The rain had cleared, tennis had returned to the much-beleaguered U.S. Open and No. 13 seed David Nalbandian couldn't keep the smile from his face.
After three days of waiting, Nalbandian pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, beating No. 2 seed Roger Federer in impressive fashion, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3, yesterday.
"Weird," said Federer, after losing to Nalbandian for the fifth straight time. "He likes my game. He likes to play [counter-punch] tennis. I've never had a great day against him.
"But I had my chances today. If I could have won the tiebreak, it probably would have changed the match."
Nalbandian didn't disagree.
"Maybe I like everything about his game,`' said the Argentinian. "I like to play against him very much. Always you have to think I will win, but in the match you don't know. Today, I think my returns of his serve were the difference."
Now, he'll have ample opportunity to practice his service returns as the men's quarterfinalists will be asked to play best-of-five-set matches each of the next four days, something that has never been done in the last 35 years of Grand Slam, Open era tennis.
The Open has become a tournament with an embarrassment of riches as men's and women's fourth-round matches were being played all around the National Tennis Center yesterday.
And now, despite 3 1/2 days of rain, during which only three matches were completed, the Open is still on schedule to finish on Sunday, as planned. But there have been casualties. The Junior tournament for boys and girls doubles teams was canceled.
Yesterday, No. 6 seed Lleyton Hewitt advanced, beating the popular player from Thailand, No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan, 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, in the intimate setting of court 11. Hewitt will now play No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarterfinals.
Ferrero withstood the expected comeback by Todd Martin over five sets, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3.
No. 5 seed Guillermo Coria earned his third big meeting of the year against No. 1 seed Andre Agassi.
Last night, Coria beat Jonas Bjorkman, 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Coria lost to Agassi in the fourth round on the hard courts in Australia, when he retired while losing, 6-1, 3-1, but then beat him in four sets on clay in the French Open quarterfinal.
No. 4 Andy Roddick, who advanced Wednesday night, learned his quarterfinal opponent will be Sjeng Schalken, who beat No. 8 Rainer Schuettler, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Nalbandian will face No. 22 Younes El Aynaoui, who beat No. 7 Carlos Moya, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-4.
All four men's quarterfinals will be played during the day today, while the women's semifinals will be played tonight, starting at 8.
Last night, No. 1 women's seed Kim Clijsters, who was up 3-0 on Amelie Mauresmo Wednesday when their match was suspended, completed a dominating performance with a 6-1, 6-4 victory. She'll now meet No. 3 seed Lindsay Davenport, who won, 6-4, 6-0, over No. 24 Paola Suarez.
"I think this was the weirdest situation that I've ever experienced in a Grand slam tournament," said Mary Pierce after losing to Anastasia Myskina, 7-6, 6-1. Myskina earned a meeting with No. 2 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne last night. Henin-Hardenne won, 6-2, 6-3.
"It was really, really weird, to wait four days and play 20 minutes to finish the match," Pierce said.
Pierce was asked whether tournament officials could have done a better job of getting the matches that were already in progress back on court as opposed to the more TV-glamorous matches of Agassi and Roddick the last two nights.
"It's definitely a tough situation," she said. "But, I mean, the only thing that I would really have to say would be that when you're sitting around waiting to play for about three or four hours, then they come and tell you you're going to play in 15 minutes, then they call you in 10 minutes, it's not enough time to prepare and get ready and warm up before you go out and play a match - especially if it's cold out and it's late. It's a good way to get injured."
Still, Myskina and Pierce, who has had more than her share of injuries in her career, were luckier than No. 15 Ai Sugiyama and No. 29 Francesca Schiavone. It took those two 74 1/2 hours to reach a conclusion, with Schiavone winning, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3.
Besides the rain factor, they were additionally delayed when an errant toss by a ball retriever hit umpire Lynn Welch's glasses, causing cuts to her nose and near her eye.
The victory sent Schiavone into the quarterfinals last night against No. 6 seed Jennifer Capriati, who won, 6-1, 6-3.
Between women's matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Michael Chang was honored for his 17-year career.
Men's quarterfinals today
Andre Agassi (1) vs. Guillermo Coria (5)
Sjeng Schalken (12) vs. Andy Roddick (4)
Juan Carlos Ferrero (3) vs. Lleyton Hewitt (6)
Younes El Aynaoui (22) vs. David Nalbandian (13) Women's semifinals today
Kim Clijsters (1) vs. Lindsay Davenport (3)
Jennifer Capriati (6) vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne (2)