By Steve Keating
NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Japan's Kei Nishikori outlasted fifth seeded Canadian Milos Raonic 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-7 (6) 7-5 6-4 to move into the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Tuesday, equalling the record for latest match ever played at the year's final grand slam.
Raonic and the 10th seeded Nishikori stepped onto the court for the last match of the evening at the Arthur Ashe Stadium to a near full house on Monday evening.
The two players exited four hours and 19 minutes later in the wee hours of Tuesday morning at 2:26 am having contested what was the joint latest finish ever at the U.S. Open.
The finishing time matches two other marathon contests played at Flushing Meadows by Philipp Kohlscheiber and John Isner in 2012 and Mats Wilander and Mikael Pernfors in 1993.
The match was also the longest of the tournament this year, one minute longer than the 4:18 match played in the first round between Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu and Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
With only a few thousand spectators sprinkled across the massive stadium, Nishikori made the decisive breakthrough when he broke Raonic to go up 3-2 in the fifth set then consolidated with a love-hold and grimly fought off challenges by the big-hitting Canadian, who fired 35 aces at his Japanese opponent.
"I was down 2-1 in the third it was really tight and it was really tough," said Nishikori. "He had great serve I just tried played one point at a time and keep fighting."
Nishikokri will next meet Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka, who took a much quicker path to the last eight beating Spain's Tommy Robredo 7-5 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)