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Nadal win caps off perfect second round for top 16

After sweating through a match that was more difficult than expected, Rafael Nadal finally broke through on Friday to book his place in the third round of the US Open.

sports Updated: Sep 05, 2009 22:50 IST

After sweating through a match that was more difficult than expected, Rafael Nadal finally broke through on Friday to book his place in the third round of the US Open. Clinching a marathon third-set game that gave him a break, he hit his winner, pumped his fist three times and shouted “Vamos!”

An hour later, he had beaten Nicolas Kiefer 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and completed a clean sweep for the top 16 players at the US Open. They are 32-0 through two rounds, the first time that’s happened in the 41-year history of Open-era Grand Slam tennis. “A very good practice for me, no?” Nadal said. “To play in three hours is a very good test. At the same time, it’s important. The first day, I didn’t have any bad moment, any pressure moment. Today, I had to do more.”

The first set took only 24 minutes. But Kiefer, the 129th-ranked player and the boys US Open champion back in 1995, won the second and matched Nadal game for game deep into the third. Nadal finally got his break to make it 5-3, which brought on his celebration. While Nadal welcomed a tougher test as he makes his way back from knee tendinitis that forced him to skip Wimbledon. “He was getting a little bit tired,” Kiefer said. “I could see it, I could feel it. He didn’t move so good. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t count if you play good or bad. A win is a win, a loss is a loss.”

Nadal and No 2 Andy Murray, who defeated Paul Capdeville of Chile 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, are the only two players in the top 10 to have dropped a set over their first two rounds at Flushing Meadows.

It extended a recent pattern of dominance by the top players in men’s tennis, which has taken on an air of predictability that women’s tennis was once derided for but had largely overcome. “The best players are winning and they don’t have any strange losses,” Nadal said. Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon were other top-10 seeded players to progress.