Nadal eases through after Djokovic struggles

Wed Sep 1, 2010 12:04pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal made a smooth start to his bid to capture the one grand slam that has eluded him when he wore down Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6 7-6 6-3 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

Dressed menacingly in an all black outfit, Nadal had to dig deep to see off the stubborn Gabashvili after three hours of intense shotmaking from both men at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Neither player dropped serve in the opening two sets but Nadal's superior big-match experience came through when it mattered and he won both tiebreakers before Gabashvili finally cracked in the third set.

"I prefer to play one hour and 10 minutes," Nadal said. "Everybody wants to win easier.

"(When) you play against (lower-ranked) players they don't have much to lose, so they play aggressive.

"I had a difficult match, but I think I did play well."


Nadal's straight sets win capped another dramatic day when most of the results went according to the script but not before some brutal contests for three former finalists on a sweltering hot day at Flushing Meadows.   Continued...

<p>Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a volley to Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia during their first round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 31, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>