Nadal eases into U.S. Open quarters

Wed Sep 8, 2010 10:04am EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal edged closer to a place in his first U.S. Open final after thrashing fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday with another devastating serving performance.

The world number one, who would complete the collection of grand slam titles with a victory at Flushing Meadows, shrugged off swirling winds at Arthur Ashe Stadium to wrap up his fourth straight sets win of this year's championship in a little over two hours.

The start was delayed because of a backlog of matches and did not finish until early Wednesday morning despite Nadal's best efforts to get it over as quickly as possible.

The result appeared a foregone conclusion from the moment Nadal strolled out to center court, dressed menacingly in an all-black outfit, and opened up a 3-0 lead.

"I think I am playing well, but I am not playing yet at my highest level," Nadal said.

"I am playing better and better every day and I had to play a little bit better this match."

Nadal has yet to lose a game on his service in the entire championship and against Lopez, the 23rd seed, he won a staggering 90 per cent of first serve points. His fastest delivery was timed at 135 mph.

Lopez had a great chance to break Nadal in the first set when he had him 0-40 but the top seed immediately snuffed him out.   Continued...

<p>Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot from between his legs to compatriot Feliciano Lopez during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York in this September 7, 2010 combination photo. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque</p>