Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand during his third round match against Ivan Dodig of Croatia at the US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York City, yesterday.
New York: Second-seeded Rafael Nadal extended his 2013 hard court record to 18-0 with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 battering of Ivan Dodig of Croatia yesterday that sent the Spaniard into the fourth round of the US Open.
Nadal, the undisputed King of Clay after winning his eighth French Open earlier this year on the red clay of Roland Garros, continued to show his hard court prowess as he ran the dogged Dodig relentlessly on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 2010 US Open winner smacked 37 winners in the two-hour eight-minute victory, nearly double the number registered by Dodig, and showed his versatility by winning 14-of-17 forays to the net set up by his ferocious groundstrokes.
Nadal will play either 13th-seeded American John Isner or Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany for a berth in the quarter-finals.
Victoria Azarenka dropped her first set of the tournament but recovered to book her place in the fourth round after two former grand slam champions were sent packing.
A finalist last year and one of the favourites to win the title this season, a feisty Azarenka overcame a shaky start to beat Alize Cornet of France 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-2 after Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova crashed out.
Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and seventh seed at Flushing Meadows, fell 6-3, 6-0 to American wildcard Alison Riske in their third round match.
Then Kuznetsova, a former US Open and French Open champion, was beaten 7-5, 6-1 by Italy’s Flavia Pennetta as the upsets continued.
Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, seeded 14th, was thrashed 6-0 6-1 by in-form Romanian Simona Halep while former world number one Ana Ivanovic had to dig deep to avoid joining the growing casualty list.
The Serbian was on the brink of defeat in her center court match against American Christina Mchale before recovering to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. She plays Azarenka next.
Spain’s David Ferrer became the first man to reach the round of 16 when he defeated Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin.
Ferrer, dropped a set for the second match in a row but was untroubled in his 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory. REUTERS