NEW YORK (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal steamrolled into the round of 16 at the U.S. Open by riding his sublime service game to a straight-sets victory over France’s Gilles Simon at Flushing Meadows Sunday.
Top-seeded Nadal, yet to lose his serve at this season’s last grand slam event, registered a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory, scoring single service breaks in each of the first two sets before racing through the third set.
The 42nd-ranked Simon gave a good account of himself in the first two sets but was understandably distracted by the end and likely looking forward to jetting back home to see his newborn son Timothee, who was born Thursday.
Simon, unprepared for the birth of the boy since he arrived prematurely by four weeks, had told reporters after his second-round win against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber that he would be facing a win-win situation against Nadal.
“If I win it’s fabulous. If I lose, it’s even more fabulous,” said the Frenchman.
Nadal bounded to the net after serving his sixth ace to end the match and gave Simon a thumbs up and a big smile in congratulations for the new arrival.
The Spaniard seized the upper hand early in the first set, breaking Simon in the third game with a sizzling forehand winner to take a 2-1 lead.
Nadal, an eight-time grand slam titlist hoping to complete a career grand slam by adding the elusive U.S. crown, was handed his break in the second set on two forehand errors by Simon in the seventh game.
The tension dissipated early in the third set when the top seed broke Simon twice as he charged out to a 4-0 lead.
The Frenchman put up some resistance in the last game, reaching his first break point of the match at 30-40, before Nadal reached back for more big serves to end the two-hour match.
“In the third set, I have to say that I was already in the plane,” said Simon.
Nadal advanced to a fourth-round match against compatriot Feliciano Lopez, who strolled through when Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine had to retire from their match with a toe infection.
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Steve Ginsburg