Nadal, Federer near showdown


Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer moved closer to a first-ever US Open meeting with second-round triumphs on Thursday while women’s top seeds Serena Williams and Victoria Azaranka also advanced.
Spanish second seed Nadal, a 12-time Grand Slam winner who has nine titles since ending a seven-month injury layoff in February, beat Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 in 92 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I was solid with my serve,” said Nadal, who hit 69 per cent of his first serves. “I started a little slower but when the match was coming on I felt I played better and better.”
Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who at the seventh seed is in his lowest spot at the US Open since 2002, fired 37 winners in beating Argentina’s 48th-ranked Carlos Berlocq, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 after 95 minutes.
“I was pretty comfortable out there, so that was a good sign,” Federer said. “It’s one of those matches I expect myself to win in straight sets and gain confidence in the process. All those things happened so I’m pleased about it.”
Federer, who swept the New York hardcourt crowns from 2004-2008, and Nadal, whose 2010 US Open title completed a career Grand Slam, could meet for the first time at the US Open in the quarter-finals.
“I hope I’m going to be there,” Federer said. “The biggest mistake I can do is focus on Rafa right now. Clearly I would love a match with Rafa.”
On the women’s side, defending champion Williams downed 77th-ranked Galina Voskoboeva 6-3, 6-0, and Belarus second seed Azarenka beat Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 6-1. But Italian fourth seed Sara Errani made a tearful exit, the 2012 US Open semi-finalist and French Open runner-up falling to friend and compatriot Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-1.
“It was difficult,” Errani said. “The worst thing was the ‘fight.’ Normally it’s the best thing I do on the court and today it was not good. I don’t know why. I think it’s the pressure. Everything was very difficult for me.”
After being eliminated in the second round last month at Wimbledon in his earliest Grand Slam exit since the 2003 French Open, Federer is going for more than a simple showdown with Nadal in the Flushing Meadows fortnight.
Eight-time French Open champion Nadal, 27, will next risk his career-best 17-match hardcourt win streak against Croatian Ivan Dodig, who is 1-1 all-time against Nadal and upset him in their most recent meeting in the second round at Montreal in 2011 by winning a third-set tie-breaker.

Winning start for Sania, Paes; Bhupathi bows out
New York, Aug. 30: Indian stars Sania Mirza and Leander Paes made winning starts in their respective doubles events but veteran Mahesh Bhupathi bowed out with a first-round loss at the US Open here.
Sania and her Chinese partner Jie Zheng cruised into the second round of the women’s doubles event after they easily saw off the challenge of German Annika Beck and Puerto Rican Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday.
Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek breezed through into the second round of men’s doubles with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over unseeded duo of Jarkko Nieminen from Finland and Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov. However, it was curtains for Bhupathi and his German partner Philipp Petzschner as they lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to Canadian duo of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
Divij Sharan recorded his first win in a Grand Slam event when he, partnering with Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu, beat the Dutch duo of Robin Hasse and Igor Sijsling 6-1, 7-5. — PTI

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