Nadal Makes U.S. Open Quarterfinals; Williams to Play Clijsters

Rafael Nadal
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning against fellow Spanish player Feliciano Lopez at the 2010 US Open tennis tournament. Photographer: Emmanuel Dunand /AFP/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a straight-set victory, while defending champion Kim Clijsters set up a meeting with Venus Williams for a spot in the women’s final.

The top-seeded Nadal was a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 winner over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in a match that ended at 1:16 a.m. at the National Tennis Center in New York.

Nadal, who won this year’s French Open and Wimbledon titles, has yet to lose a set at the season’s final Grand Slam championship, the only one to elude him. Nadal also hasn’t lost a game on his serve through four matches.

“Sometimes it’s part of the confidence,” Nadal said during an on-court interview. “I’m very happy to be in the quarterfinals without losing a set.”

Nadal’s final eight opponent will be another countryman in eighth-seeded Fernando Verdasco, who rallied from two sets down to beat No. 10 David Ferrer in a 4-hour, 23-minute match.

That was five minutes shorter than Stanislas Wawrinka’s five-set win over Sam Querrey, who was the last American man left in the tournament.

Williams is the last representative from the host country after reaching the semifinals with a straight-sets victory over Italy’s Francesca Schiavone, this year’s French Open winner.

Second-seeded Clijsters took a decisive third set against Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-3 to run her U.S. Open winning streak to 19 matches dating back to 2003.

Federer to Play

Five-time champion Roger Federer is back in action today, playing the final match against Robin Soderling, the fifth seed from Sweden. Switzerland’s Federer is the only man other than Nadal who hasn’t dropped a set through the first four rounds.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is also seeking a semifinal spot, playing Gael Monfils of France.

Caroline Wozniacki, the women’s No. 1 seed from Denmark, meets Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia as she seeks to join Williams and Clijsters in the semifinals.

Russian No. 7 seed Vera Zvonareva plays Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in today’s other women’s quarterfinal.

Nadal began play at Arthur Ashe Stadium at about 11 p.m. New York time last night after Wawrinka and Clijsters went the maximum number of sets in their wins.

Nadal broke Lopez’s first service and won 13 of the first 14 points en route to his fourth straight-set win.

Nadal will next face Verdasco as he seeks to become the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam and fourth in the 42-year professional era to win three consecutive major titles.

Verdasco’s Comeback

Verdasco rallied from a two-set deficit for the second time in his career and beat Ferrer 7-4 in the fifth-set tiebreaker. The eighth seed finished off the victory by racing almost all the way to the umpire’s chair to chase down a drop shot, then hooking a forehand winner over the net post and just inside the baseline.

“He had an amazing comeback,” Nadal said. “He’ll be coming to the quarterfinals with big confidence, so I’ll have to play my best tennis.”

Wawrinka joined Federer in the last eight with his win over Querrey, making it the first time two Swiss men have reached this stage of the same Grand Slam in tennis’s Open era.

“Roger, he’s always in the quarterfinals, so that’s not something different, but for me, it’s my first time,” Wawrinka said. “It’s something important for my career.”

The 25th-seeded Wawrinka, who also upset Briton Andy Murray, will next play Mikhail Youzhny. The 12th-seeded Russian beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo in four sets.

Clijsters, Williams Advance

Clijsters and Williams advanced to their semifinal matchup by overcoming windy conditions in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Clijsters beat Stosur 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and took control when she broke the Australian’s serve with a 4-3 lead in the final set. Stosur fell to 0-4 against Clijsters and fell short in her attempt to become the first Aussie woman to reach the U.S. Open semifinals since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Williams improved to 8-0 against Schiavone with her 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win. She also becomes the first player over the age of 30 to reach a women’s Grand Slam semifinal since Mary Pierce at the 2005 U.S. Open.

“She has been playing really well,” Clijsters said of Williams, who won back-to-back U.S. Open titles in 2000 and 2001. “It’s a challenge and I look forward to it.”

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