Nadal cruises into quarters

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Rafael Nadal breezed in three sets over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez Tuesday and moved into the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, the only Grand Slam tournament the current world No. 1 has yet to win.

The top-seeded Nadal, looking to become just the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam, continued his incredible service run in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 dismantling of the 23rd-seeded Lopez.

Nadal, the reigning Wimbledon and French Open titlist, has never reached a U.S. Open final, but would seem to have a decided advantage in his quarterfinal encounter against Spain's Fernando Verdasco. The eighth-seeded Verdasco reached the quarterfinals here for a second straight year with an incredible 5-7, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) win over the No. 10 seeded David Ferrer in a match that took nearly 4 1/2 hours.

Nadal, who has yet to have his serve broken at this fortnight, has never lost in 10 lifetime encounters against Verdasco, although the two played in an epic five-set semifinal at the 2009 Australian Open.

"He's a very complex player and one of the best players in the world," Nadal said. "He had an amazing comeback today against another friend. I have to play my best tennis if I really want to have a chance to win."

Noted in the past as a clay court specialist, Nadal has won a tour-leading five titles in 2010, but is looking for his first hardcourt championship since 2009 at Indian Wells.

Earlier in the day, there was another 4 1/2-hour match, as Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka downed Sam Querrey, leaving the Americans without a quarterfinalist. The 25th-seeded Swiss was a 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 winner over the 20th-seeded Querrey.

Also Tuesday, former semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny was a fourth-round winner. The 12th-seeded Youzhny handled former top-10 Spaniard Tommy Robredo, 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Last year, Verdasco saw a round-of-eight loss to Novak Djokovic, which was his best result in Flushing Meadows.

Verdasco was able to win the match despite piling up 89 unforced errors and 11 double faults. He fought off four set points in the 12th game of the second set to force the tiebreaker. He then wasted a pair of set points during the tiebreak before Ferrer finally took control. During one point, a frustrated Verdasco slammed his racquet to the ground after delivering a wide forehand return.

After fighting off a fifth set point, Verdasco finally succumbed as Ferrer sent a backhand passing shot to move his compatriot down two sets.

After two strong sets for Verdasco, the fifth was a battle of attrition. Ferrer moved to a 4-2 lead, but gave up the next three games, with Verdasco taking a 5-4 lead after a sizzling backhander at the net.

Ferrer forced the tiebreaker, but Verdasco used his feet to outlast his opponent. On match point, Ferrer put down a perfect drop shot, but Verdasco raced to the left side and deposited the ball into the left corner of the court before crumpling to his knees in celebration.

The Russian Youzhny prevailed in just over three hours in a mostly-uneventful match at Armstrong Stadium. Youzhny tallied four service breaks, compared to only one for the Spanish loser, who captured the third set with his lone break.

Robredo, who was the lowest-ranked man (41st) still standing here, won his second-and third-round matches when his opponents retired. The 28-year-old fell to 0-7 in his fourth-round U.S. Open matches.

Spain placed six men in the round of 16, but that's now down to two with the matchup of Nadal and Verdasco.

"They play really, really well," Youzhny said. "Why? They have a lot of courts; they have a lot of good facilities to practice well. I think it's not really expensive to practice in Spain for Spanish people. In Russia now it's very expensive to practice in Moscow. Not everybody can do this. Before they had only good results on clay, but now, in my opinion, the hard courts are going a little bit slower than previous years. That's why they can play also well on hard courts."

The 28-year-old Youzhny reached the U.S. Open final four back in 2006.

Youzhny, who will appear in his fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal, awaits Wawrinka.

This is the first Grand Slam quarterfinal berth for Wawrinka in his 23rd major tournament. The result also means there will be two Swiss men in the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era, the other this year being five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer.

The quarters will get underway here on Wednesday. The second-seeded Federer takes on fifth-seeded two-time French Open runner-up Robin Soderling in the final match of the night at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Earlier on Ashe, third-seeded former Flushing runner-up Djokovic will be opposed by 17th-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils. The reigning Australian Open champion Federer was stunned by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in last year's finale here.


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