Champions Nadal, Murray, Clijsters and Williams advance with ease
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Andy Murray moved a step closer to a bid for his first Grand Slam title after an impressive triumph, as did Rafael Nadal (pictured). Reigning women's champ Kim Clijsters advanced easily into the last 16 along with US third seed Venus Williams.
AFP - Rafael Nadal's bid for a career Grand Slam and Andy Murray's quest for his first Grand Slam title moved a step closer to a US Open semi-final collision course with impressive triumphs on Friday.
Reigning women's champion Kim Clijsters breezed into the last 16 along with US third seed Venus Williams, whose injured world number one sister Serena was on hand to watch her elder sibling for the first time this week.
Wimbledon and French Open champion Nadal defeated 39th-ranked Uzbek Denis Istomin 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 to reach a third-round match against France's Gilles Simon, who beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
The top seed and Spanish world number one, trying to become only the seventh man to complete a career Grand Slam by winning his first US Open title, won the last six points of the tie-breaker and saved all seven break points he faced.
"I was a little bit lucky in the tie-breaker of the second set. That's the truth," Nadal said. "He was playing really well. I started the match really well, kept working all the time."
British fourth seed Murray sent off Jamaican Dustin Brown 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 in a match halted about 20 minutes due to rain from nearby Hurricane Earl, which brushed the US eastern coast and brought brisk, swirling winds to the US Open.
"It was windy so you had to get on and off the court as quickly as possible and I managed to get that done," Murray said.
Next for Murray, seeking his first Grand Slam title, is Swiss 25th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Belgian second seed Clijsters improved her US Open win streak to 17 matches, including her only Grand Slam title runs from 2005 and 2009, taking the last 12 games in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Czech Wimbledon semi-finalist Petra Kvitova.
Clijsters, who faces fellow former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the fourth round, fell behind 0-3 in 11 minutes before solving the winds.
"I just had to adjust and get used to the wind. It was tough," Clijsters said. "I was glad after those first three games I could get my serve going."
Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open winner who has slid to 40th in the rankings, won the last nine games to oust French wildcard Virginie Razzano 7-5, 6-0 and match her best US Open run from 2007.
"I'm playing a lot better," Ivanovic said. "Things are starting to come back together out on the court as well, so I'm really thrilled about that. It has been tough. But I'm really happy I managed to stay strong in those times and just push through it, work hard and actually believe I can do it."
Williams downed Luxembourg's Mandy Minella 6-2, 6-1. Seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams, the last woman to win back-to-back US Open titles, will face Israeli 16th seed Shahar Peer for a quarter-final berth.
Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Serena Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, was in the stands.
"It was good to see her," Venus Williams said. "Usually we have a tournament together. Not this time. But it was good to have her back."
Italian sixth seed Francesca Schiavone reached the fourth round by beating Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko 6-1, 7-5 with help from a Roger Federer-style between-the-legs running from the net shot in the 10th game of the last set.
"Is nothing programmed. Is just instinct. Is art," Schiavone said. "Is something that's coming from inside and you have just to take in a good timing otherwise the ball fly."
US men's hopefuls Sam Querrey and John Isner, who could face Murray in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively, delighted American fans with wins.
Querrey, seeded 20th, beat Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 while Wimbledon marathon man Isner ousted Swiss Marco Chiudinelli 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4.
But 18-year-old US qualifier Ryan Harrison suffered a heartbreaking ouster, squandering three match points in a fifth-set tie-breaker to help Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky win 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6).
Also reaching the third round was Argentina's David Nalbandian, who missed the previous six Grand Slams with injuries but reached the third round by beating Frenchman Florent Serra 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.
Nalbandian was sidelined nine months after hip surgery, made a brief return early this year, then missed two more months with a sore hamstring.