New York:Spanish third seed Rafael Nadal, trying to complete a career Grand Slam, advanced to the US Open quarter-finals on Tuesday by defeating French 13th seed Gael Monfils 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal, who clinched a return to second in the world rankings with the triumph, will play for a spot in the semi-finals against Chilean 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez, whom he has beaten in six of nine previous matches.
"He's a very good player," Nadal said. "Unbelievable forehands. If I don't play my best it's going to be impossible."
Nadal showed no sign of pain after a two-month layoff with knee tendinitis, calling his knees "very good", or from a right abdominal muscle injury that was treated during his third-round victory Sunday over countryman Nicolas Almagro.
"I had a few problems but I am in the quarter-finals here for the third time and I'm very happy," Nadal said. "I'm just trying to enjoy my comeback. It's a big result for me. It's much better than what I expected."
A spectator, camera in hand, ran onto the court moments after the match and was able to reach Nadal and give congratulations before security guards pulled him away.
Monfils broke Nadal in the fourth game of the match and served for the first set at 5-3 but was broken in five points, the last on a netted forehand.
In the tie-break, Monfils won five of the last six points, two on aces and the last when left-hander Nadal pushed a forehand wide.
Nadal saved a break point and held in the opening game of the second set, then swatted a fiery forehand winner on his first break chance for a 4-2 edge.
Monfils broke back but then gave the game back by netting a forehand and Nadal held serve to claim the set, then broke to open the third when Monfils sent a forehand beyond the baseline, pressing his edge to seize momentum.
Nadal took another break in the fifth game when Monfils pushed a forehand wide and another on a double fault to win the 28-minute third set.
An error-gifted break in the fourth game put Nadal ahead. Monfils struck back to break in the next game but double-faulted away a break in the eighth game and Nadal held serve to win after two hours 45 minutes when Monfils netted a forehand, this 63rd and last unforced error.