Nadal to lead Spanish charge at U.S. Open

Tue Sep 7, 2010 4:06am EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal will lead the Spanish Armada into the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday as he continues his bid to capture the only grand slam to have eluded him.

Spain have strength in numbers and are already assured of having at least one men's semi-finalist after filling all four remaining spots in the top quarter of the draw.

The four, Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer and Felciano Lopez, are all seeded and close friends after teaming up to help their country win the Davis Cup last year and earn the nickname the La Armada Invencible (The Invincible Army).

Nadal is looming as the obvious favorite to advance after getting through his first three matches without dropping a service game but first he must get past Lopez, the 23rd seed, in Tuesday's late night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Verdasco, seeded eighth, and Ferrer, the 10th seed, will square off at Louis Armstrong Stadium while a fifth Spaniard, the unseeded Tommy Robredo, is also in action at Louis Armstrong, playing Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.

"Already one Spanish player going to be in semi-finals, that is positive news for us," Nadal said.

"Especially because the ball and the court is probably the most difficult tournament for us, so that is very important news for Spanish tennis."

The host nation's chances of winning either championship will go on the line when the last remaining Americans, Venus Williams and Sam Querrey, play the two day matches on center court.   Continued...

<p>Rafael Nadal of Spain serves to Gilles Simon of France during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 5, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque</p>