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Nadal eases into fourth round

US Open title favourite inches closer to a quarter-final showdown with old foe Roger Federer after straight sets win.

Last Modified: 31 Aug 2013 20:50
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Victoria Azarenka dropped her first set of the tournament but recovered to book her last-16 spot [AFP]

Rafael Nadal eased into the US Open last 16 on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Croatia's Ivan Dodig with his only concerns being a shortage of towels and a worrying pass by a low-flying jet.

The second-seeded Nadal, a 12-time major winner and the 2010 champion in New York, hit 37 winners and faced just two break points and goes on to face either American 13th seed John Isner or Philip Kohlschreiber, the 22nd seed from Germany, for a quarter-final spot.

Also on Saturday, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka escaped an upset bid while Grand Slam winners Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova were ousted from the US Open in early surprises.

Belarus second seed Azarenka, who lost to top seed Serena Williams in last year's final, outlasted French 26th seed Alize Cornet 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-2 after two hours and 40 minutes.

Cornet, hoping to match her best Slam showing by reaching the last 16, denied Azarenka on 10 of 11 break chances in the first set, but could not hold on after dominating the tie-breaker.

Showdown looming

Passage to the last eight could mean a first-ever US Open showdown for Rafael Nadal against old rival Roger Federer.

"I started the match with a high intensity. I lost to Ivan the last time we played in Montreal and he won two hard matches here against Fernando Verdasco, a lefty like me, and Nikolay Davydenko," said Nadal.

"I think I played my best match of the week so far today."

Nadal, who has yet to drop serve in three rounds so far, admitted it was an emotional experience returning to New York after missing the 2012 tournament through injury.

"This court is very special. I have many unforgettable memories of this court so thank you for making me feel like I am at home," added the Spaniard, whose title in New York in 2010 allowed him to complete the career Grand Slam.

The 27-year-old Nadal, who has collected nine titles since his return from a seven-month injury layoff in February, was never troubled by world number 38 Dodig, who beat the Spaniard the last time they met in Montreal in 2011.

His win took his year record to 56 victories against just three losses and extended his run on hard courts to 18-0.

Breaks in the third games of the first two sets provided the foundation with another in the fourth of the third set allowing Nadal to breeze through.

Nadal was more concerned by the shortage of towels on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"They should have 10 towels," said the Spaniard during a match played under crippling humidity.

Midway through the second set, Nadal shuddered briefly as a jet heading into nearby LaGuardia Airport made a low, roaring pass over Flushing Meadows.

Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer outlasted Russian-born Kazakh qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the last 16, where he will meet either 18th-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic or American Jack Sock.

Canadian 10th seed Milos Raonic blasted 28 aces to defeat 23rd-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Raonic faces either French eighth seed Richard Gasquet or Russian 32nd seed Dmitry Tursonov in the fourth round.

574

Source:
AFP
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