Nadal fist-pumps way into U.S. Open last 16

Fri Sep 2, 2016 11:12pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fourth seed Rafa Nadal showed he is healthy and ready to challenge for a third U.S. Open title as he rolled into the last 16 at Flushing Meadows on Friday with a fist-pumping 6-1 6-4 6-2 win over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.

Erasing any lingering concerns over an injured left wrist that kept him out of Wimbledon, Nadal has made a powerful start to the year's final grand slam, racing into the fourth round without dropping a set.

It was vintage Nadal on a warm New York evening, as the energetic Spaniard wore down his 47th-ranked opponent with a breathless work rate and a bombardment of stinging forehands.

"I am improving with that shot," Nadal told reporters. "Everybody knows that is a very important shot for me.

"When I am able to play that shot well, then the court opens a lot."

Nadal, who incurred his wrist injury at the French Open and then missed Wimbledon, showed his form when he reached the semi-finals of the singles and won the doubles gold medal at the Rio Olympics last month.

Two weeks later, saying he felt fatigued, Nadal lost his second match at Cincinnati but has certainly appeared re-energized since arriving at Flushing Meadows.

The 14-time grand slam winner concedes he still feels some discomfort in his wrist but it has not affected his performance on the New York hardcourts.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia (not pictured) on day five of the 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports