NEW YORK – Gael Monfils follows his own rules.
The 28-year-old Frenchman does things seemingly no one else can on a tennis court. Just search his name on YouTube and watch any of many video clips showcasing his speed and agility; start with the parallel-to-the-ground, a-few-feet-in-the-air dive at this year’s French Open.
Monfils sips soda during breaks in his matches, sometimes raising the can in a toast to his agent. He doesn’t have a coach, in an era when some players have two.
What Monfils has never done, despite all his talent — and in some cases, because he has appeared to value style over substance on court, in the middle of a point, preferring the spectacular to the sufficient — is reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament. He took a step closer Tuesday at the U.S. Open during a 7-5, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 victory in the fourth round over seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, a Bulgarian viewed as one of the sport’s up-and-comers.
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There is a narrative building around the 20th-seeded Monfils’ success this year at Flushing Meadows, where he hasn’t dropped a set en route to reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010: He has matured and is playing more carefully.
But Monfils, who will face No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland for a spot in the semifinals, rejected that notion.
“I’m the same. So I will say I’m a bit more lucky than I was maybe sometime in the past,” Monfils said. “ I think I haven’t changed a lot, to be honest.”
Federer advanced to the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the 10th time in 11 years by eliminating 17th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Another quarterfinal matchup will be No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic against No. 14 Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Berdych beat Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Cilic was a 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 winner over No. 26 Gilles Simon of France.
In women’s quarterfinal action, 39th-ranked Peng Shuai of China ended the run of 17-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1. Peng’s next opponent will be No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Wozniacki routed No. 13 Sara Errani of Italy 6-0, 6-1.
“I hoped she would miss something here and there,” Errani said, “but today she practically never missed.”