Nadal matches his New York best with tough win over Querrey

September 2nd, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Sep 2 (DPA) Rafael Nadal lost the first set of his US Open as he held off an ace attack from American Sam Querrey to squeeze 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 into the quarter-finals.Querrey, from California, was made to work hard on the US holiday Labor Day as he forced Nadal to save seven break points in the seventh game of the fourth set, with the top-seeded Spaniard eventually engineering an escape for a 5-2 lead Monday.

Two games later, the Olympic champion fired over a smash on his first match point to claim victory in three hours, 13 minutes after Querrey struck 20 aces and more than 20 forehand winners.

“I took my chances and tried to rip my forehand in the fourth,” said the number 55 Californian. “But I came up short.

“I was nervous at the start but after about an hour I started to find my shots more.”

Nadal was pleased to escape after a letdown in the second set. “It’s not the freshest moment in my life, but I am fine,” said the Paris, Wimbledon and Olympic champion. “But the important thing is - I’m there.

“I’m in the quarter-finals. I will have to play my best for the last part of the tournament.”

American Mardy Fish, Nadal’s next opponent, reached his second Grand Slam quarter in two seasons with a crushing victory over Gael Monfils of France 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

The Floridian who is set to be married to a television game show model next month skipped the Beijing Games along with good friend Andy Roddick to prepare for the home major.

Both remain in the title mix as the second week begins.

Fish never let the 33rd-ranked Monfils into the contest, playing serve-and-volley in a throwback to earlier times.

“I’m never ever going to beat someone like that from the baseline,” Fish confessed. “I’m not going to last out there against him, since he doesn’t miss.

“Against most guys these days I’m going to try to keep the points as short as possible and will try to come to the net.

“It’s no secret that I desperately wanted to play well and desperately wanted to do well. This is certainly sweet for sure.”

On the women’s side, Flavia Pennetta will be the next to challenge Russia’s on-form Olympic finalist Dinara Safina after the Italian 16th seed rolled over two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo 6- 3, 6-0.

Mauresmo had a rugged afternoon, with 14 double-faults and a massive 40 unforced errors.

Five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams hammered Poland’s ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-3, with the American bidding for a first New York title since 2001.

Safina, who admits she is exhausted after a breakthrough summer campaign, overcame weariness to advance into the quarter-finals over German Anna-Lena Groenefeld 7-5, 6-0.

“Going on the court I didn’t expect that I was going to win because I was just so exhausted,” said the sixth seed from Russia. “I thought I could not push anymore myself.

“I’m really happy that I won. Maybe I didn’t play my best, but I went through. This was most important. Now I have one day off, and hopefully I can be 100 percent for my next one.”

Safina is still thick in the chase for a shot at the WTA number one ranking. If she wins the singles title Saturday night and Serb Jelena Jankoivic does not reach the semi-finals, then the Russian can take over the top spot for the first time.

The 22-year-old has won 19 of her last 20 matches and played the French Open final against Ana Ivanovic.

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