US Open: Rafael Nadal eases through
Rafael Nadal made smooth progress into the fourth round of the US Open with a straightforward win over Gilles Simon.
The first two sets were closely fought but the world number one always had the edge and he ran through the third to complete a |6-4 6-4 6-2 victory and set up a last-16 clash against fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
Nadal was not the sole focus of Spanish attention for once after David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco set up a local affair in the fourth round.
Ferrer advanced to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows for just the second time in his career with a comfortable 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 6-2 win over yet another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
A record nine Spanish players had reached the third round, but 14th seed Nicolas Almagro was unable to join Ferrer and Verdasco in the last 16 as he lost in straight sets to American Sam Querrey.
Lopez, the 23rd seed, did ensure more success for Spain, the left-hander leading 6-3 4-0 against Sergiy Stakhovsky when the Ukrainian was forced to retire hurt from their third-round clash.
Meanwhile, former world number one Ana Ivanovic admitted nerves had got to her after she won just three games in her fourth-round clash with defending champion Kim Clijsters.
Clijsters triumphed 6-2 6-1 to extend her winning streak at Flushing Meadows to 18 matches, the 27-year-old having won the title in 2005 and then coming out of retirement last year to lift the trophy again in only her 14th match and third tournament since returning to action.
“Besides this match today, I think I played really well,” Ivanovic said.
“I probably played better than I expected, considering the circumstances and how much I practised beforehand.
“I was feeling really good in the court and just swinging through, hitting my favourite shots again. Today I was just a little bit slow. I think nerves crept in.
“I was on the big stage again — I hadn't had that feeling for a long time.”
French Open champion Francesca Schiavone takes on third seed Venus Williams in the next round after the sixth seed beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 6-0, while Williams had to battle hard to see off Shahar Peer 7-6 (7/3) 6-3.
Schiavone said: “I feel better than when I was in the French Open, but just because I know how to do it and how to win a match like this.
“I'm very curious, I'm interested to see (if I can) write a new history for me.
“It's fantastic to be here.
“When you win one, you can say, I want another one, as many as you can.
“You are hungry, of course, but you have to have respect, because to win a grand slam is something so big, so long, so tough, that it's absolutely so far away from the moment.”