Friday, September 3, 2010

Nadal battles past brave Istomin

US Open, Flushing Meadows
Dates: 30 August - 12 September Start time: 1600 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; live on Sky Sports

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has lost in the semi-finals at the last two US Opens

Top seed Rafael Nadal negotiated his way past a dogged Denis Istomin 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to take his place in the US Open third round.

A thrilling surge saw Nadal snatch the second-set tie-break with six straight points that sapped Istomin's belief.

The Spaniard had taken the opener in ruthless fashion and finally subdued Istomin with a late break in the third.

Argentina's David Nalbandian made his way past France's Florent Serra with a comfortable 7-5 6-4 6-2 win.

"He was playing really well. He had a great tournament last week and so he was playing with confidence today and I was a little lucky in the tie-break," said Nadal of Istomin after the match.

The Uzbek had certainly unnerved Nadal in their only previous meeting at Queen's and he proved similarly stubborn on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.


It seemed as if the world number one may have things his own way as he serving out the opening set in emphatic style after breaks in the fifth and seventh games.

But he was stretched all the way before he could claim the comfort of a two-set cushion.

After facing down two break points in the fifth, Nadal found himself 5-1 adrift in the tie-break.

But, amid a flurry of fist-pumps, the 24-year-old wrestled the momentum from a charged Istomin to win the next six points and whisk away the set.

Istomin received strapping to his thigh at the beginning of the third, but his explosive shot-making continued with a deft backhand pass that brought the crowd to their feet in the eighth game.

Nadal's pressure finally told however as his opponent faltered when required to serve to stay in the match for a second time.

The unseeded Gilles Simon awaits in the third round for Nadal.

In another five-set match, Simonof France twice came from a set down to upset German 29th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 6-3 1-6 6-1 6-3.

Nalbandian, who will face eighth seed Fernando Verdasco next, has been tipped as an outside contender after returning from a hamstring injury in August in a rich vein of form.

The world 33 has beaten top-15 players Robin Soderling, David Ferrer and Marin Cilic and lifted the Legg Mason Classic in Washington since making his comeback.

Serra posed an early threat as he broke for a 2-0 lead in the opener, but the world number 66 faded out of the match from that point on.

"I feel really good. I didn't feel tired at all today but I will need to keep believing in my game if I want to win," said Nalbandian who faces Fernando Verdasco.

American qualifier Ryan Harrison's run came to an end in dramatic circumstances on Louis Armstrong Stadium as Sergiy Stakhovsky saved three match points on his way to a 6-3 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6) win in four hours 13 minutes.

John Isner returns a forehand
At 6ft 9ins, Isner is among the tallest players on the tennis circuit

"Obviously I'm not the happiest person in the world right now," said Harrison, who had led 6-3 in the final set tie-break. "But looking back on it, it was a great experience.

"My ranking is 220 in the world right now, and I'm trying to hopefully get to the top 10. So I feel like one match doesn't make or break that. It's the experience of playing these type of matches that is really going to help me to get there."

Compatriot John Isner sealed his place in the third round of the US Open with a four-set win over Marco Chiudinelli on day five at Flushing Meadows.

The big-serving 18th seed, one half of the longest match in Wimbledon history in June, smashed a second-serve ace to clinch a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 win.

Russia's 12th seed Mikhail Youzhny will take on Isner in the third round after seeing off Dudi Sela of Israel 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3.

David Ferrer, the tournament's 10th seed, disposed of Germany's Benjamin Becker 6-3 6-4 6-4.

Frenchman Michael Llodra followed up his previous win over seventh seed Tomas Berdych with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-2 defeat of Victor Hanescu.

A Spanish quartet ensured their places in the third round with victories over French opponents.

Feliciano Lopez, the 23rd seed, needed five sets to overcome Benoit Paire 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-2, while eighth seed Fernando Verdasco enjoyed a straightforward 6-1 6-2 6-2 win over Adrian Mannarino.

World number 59 Daniel Gimeno-Traver survived stiff resistance from Jeremy Chardy to win 4-6 6-2 6-0 7-6 (7-2), while Julien Benneteau was forced to retire from his match against Tommy Robredo in the second set tie-break.

But American Sam Querrey ended Marcel Granollers' run in the tournament with a routine 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory.

The 20th seed and Nicolas Almagro, who beat fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-4), will play for a place in the fourth round and a potential encounter with Britain's Andy Murray.

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