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Third seed Nadal reaches last 16



Latest update : 2009-09-07

Former top seed Rafael Nadal won his place in the last 16 after beating countryman Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. He will face the winner of the match between France's Gael Monfils and Argentina's Jose Acasuso.

AFP - Rafael Nadal, trying to complete a career Grand Slam with a US Open title, advanced to the last 16 on Sunday by defeating 32nd-ranked countryman Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

The third-seeded Spaniard, who received abdominal treatment during the victory, will face the winner of a later match between French 13th seed Gael Monfils and Argentina's 47th-ranked Jose Acasuso for a quarter-final berth.

Nadal called a trainer to treat his right abdominal area after breaking to pull within 2-1 in the third set. Nadal returned to hold, break again for a 3-2 edge and served out to win in two hours 39 minutes but was nagged by the pain.

"I feel it a little bit now but I will try to recover in time for my next match," Nadal said.

Six-time Grand Slam winner Nadal, the reigning Australian Open champion, is coming off a two-month layoff due to knee tendinitis, a break that kept him from defending his 2008 Wimbledon crown.

"I just plan to keep on improving my tennis and keep playing this tournament because it's special to me," Nadal said. "It's special motivation when you try to come back and play your best as fast as possible."

Nadal and Almagro exchanged seven breaks in a first-set groundstroke clinic, but 21 unforced errors proved too much for Almagro to overcome as Nadal ended a run of four consecutive breaks by holding to claim the 64-minute set.

Almagro, who has never beaten a top-10 foe, answered an early second-set break with one of his own to 4-4 but Nadal broke and held to take command.

"It was a difficult match," Nadal said. "He started with a break, I have break back. This kind of match is important to win. I'm happy to be in the fourth round."

Nadal, whose best US Open run came into last year's semi-finals, has not exited a Slam before the round of 16 since a third-round loss here to James Blake in 2005.

British second seed Andy Murray, last year's US Open runner-up, was set for the feature night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium against 195th-ranked US wildcard Taylor Dent, back after missing two years due to major back surgery.

The 22-year-old Scotsman is trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry in 1936.

For the first time in Grand Slam history, all 16 top seeds reached the third round, none falling until US fifth seed Andy Roddick on Saturday. No more than 13 of the top 16 have ever reached the fourth round at the US Open.

A sore right knee forced French ninth seed Gilles Simon to retire from his third-round match against Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 24th-seeded Spaniard leading 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 1-0 when Simon called it quits.

Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion and 2003 US Open runner-up who won his first title since 2003 at Casablanca in April, will face Spanish sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro or Austrian Daniel Koellerer for a last-eight berth.

Simon had a trainer treat his knee down 5-4 in the third set, then limped through the tie-break loss before stopping after being broken to open the fourth set.

No Frenchman has won a Grand Slam singles crown since Yannick Noah at the 1983 French Open, but seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 43rd-ranked Julien Benneteau and Monfils are still in the hunt to end the drought.

Tsonga was to later face Benneteau for a fourth-round berth with the winner to meet French Open semi-finalist and 2007 Australian Open runner-up Fernando Gonzalez. The Chilean 11th seed beat Czech Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

Date created : 2009-09-06