Nadal Holds off Kiefer to Keep US Open Hopes Alive


New York, Sep 5: Rafael Nadal kept his hopes for a career-first US Open title alive as he blunted a brief revival from Nicolas Kiefer to earn a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory into the third round.

Third seed Nadal joined number two Andy Murray in advancing in four sets Friday after the Scot fuelled ambitions as a dangerous title contender after losing the final a year ago to Roger Federer.

Number two Murray staked his claim on the third round with a defeat of Chile's Paul Capdeville 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2.

"I played three very good sets and one poor one, but you're allowed to play a bad set sometimes," Murray said. "I came back well from it."

Argentine number six Juan Del Potro dispatched Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-3, firing 13 aces and 36 winners to advance to his fifth victory without a defeat against the number 38.

The South American has fond memories of New York, where he reached a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time 12 months ago.

"This is my favourite Grand Slam," he said. "I love to play here. I've started to play better on hard court this season."

Nadal swept the first set against Kiefer before the 32-year-old German woke up, trailing a set and a break to win the second set.

But Nadal's sheer determination kept him in the chase at his first Grand Slam since the French Open despite losing his first set to Kiefer after winning their previous 10. The Spaniard had 42 winners and 22 unforced errors.

"I started playing well, but he started slow and got better," Nadal said.

The Nadal win marked the first time at any major in the post-1968 Open era that all top 16 seeds have reached the third round.

Nadal spent three hours on court with Kiefer notching more than 60 unforced errors as he went for his shots throughout an evening that ended in the early hours of Saturday.

Slimmed-down seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cut short the wrist injury comeback of Jarkko Nieminen as he defeated the Finn 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

The 2008 Australian Open finalist is to next face fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who beat Serb Viktor Troicki 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Two additional French seeds joined Tsonga with number nine Gilles Simon beating Tomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and number 13 Gael Monfils ousting German Andreas Beck 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Croatian 16th seed Marin Cilic staged a career-first comeback from two sets to love down, overhauling US player Jesse Levine 4-6, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.

Second-seeded women's holder Serena Williams had to win a lengthy 11th game of the second set lasting seven deuces to overcome Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 7-5.

The pair has a history from the French Open when Williams accused the Spaniard of cheating during their third-round match, but no boilovers occurred in New York.

Sister Venus Williams came through knee pain, defeating Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 7-5 to next face Kim Clijsters, whose comeback took wing with a defeat of Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-2.

Russian Vera Zvonareva beat compatriot Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-4 while veteran Italian Francesca Schiavone upset eighth seed Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Tenth seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy crushed Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-1.




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Title: Nadal Holds off Kiefer to Keep US Open Hopes Alive

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