Nadal sets up all Spanish tie in US Open
Rafael Nadal will not be the sole focus of Spanish eyes for once, but the world number one is more than happy to share the spotlight at the US Open.
Nadal beat France's Gilles Simon 6-4 6-4 6-2 in the third round at Flushing Meadows to ensure at least one Spanish player will be in the semi-finals in New York.
That is because the top seed will face compatriot Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round, with the winner of that match taking on either David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals.
"That is positive news for us, very positive, because I think with the ball and the court here it is probably the most difficult tournament for us," Nadal said. "I congratulate my friends. Best of luck for everybody."
As for his own form, which has seen him win all three matches in straight sets, Nadal added: "I think I am playing better, a little bit better, every day.
"Today was a solid match, I think. The serve is still good, so that's a very important thing. From the baseline I think my movements and my shots start to improve to be better every day."
A record nine Spanish players had reached the third round, with six now through to the fourth after wins for Nadal, Lopez, Ferrer, Verdasco and Tommy Robredo on Sunday, while Albert Montanes won on Saturday.
Ferrer advanced to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows for just the second time in his career with a comfortable 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 6-2 win over yet another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
The last time Ferrer reached the fourth round in New York was in 2007, when he beat Nadal on his way to the semi-finals, which remains his best result in a Grand Slam.
Lopez was leading 6-3 4-0 against Sergiy Stakhovsky when the Ukrainian was forced to retire hurt from their third-round clash, while Robredo also benefited from a retirement, the Spaniard leading two sets to one and 2-1 in the fourth when France's Michael Llodra retired through injury.
Robredo will face Russian 12th seed Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round, after he eliminated American 18th seed John Isner 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-4 in the evening session.
The only disappointment for Spain came when 14th seed Nicolas Almagro lost in straight sets to American Sam Querrey, who will face Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in the last 16.
Wawrinka knocked out fourth seed Andy Murray in four sets in a match featuring 13 breaks of serve and almost as many breaks in play for medical treatment to both players.
"I think at the end of the first set I was playing a little bit too defensive," Wawrinka said.
"That's what I started to change in the second and third and fourth sets, to stay aggressive, even if he's coming, even if he's putting a lot of pressure.
"But I have the feeling he was a little bit injured, he was not feeling okay, so I was trying to stay aggressive and to make him run a lot, and I think I did pretty well."
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