New York: Rafael Nadal crushed another opponent at the US Open, beating Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday to further entrench his status as tournament favourite.
The second-seeded Spaniard has lost just 21 games through three matches and has faced only five break points, saving each one of them.
The 38th-ranked Dodig beat Nadal at the hard-court tournament in Montreal two years ago. But Nadal is looking like the king of hard courts these days, with an 18-match winning streak on the surface.
He closed out the victory with a service winner to win the last game at love. "I am winning because I am playing well from the baseline and I am making the right decisions in the right moments," Nadal said.
Nadal remains on course for a quarter-final meeting with eternal foe Roger Federer, who was to play the last match of Saturday against Adrian Mannarino of France. The winner will face No. 19 Tommy Robredo of Spain, who ended the run of 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans of Britain 7-6 (6), 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer needed nearly three hours to down 172nd-ranked qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. His next opponent is No. 18-seeded Janko Tipsarevic, who also took four sets to knock off 20-year-old American Jack Sock 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-2.
Eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet and No. 10 Milos Raonic set up another fourth-round matchup with victories.
Sock's defeat, along with that of John Isner at the hands of Phillip Kohlschreiber -Nadal's next opponent - meant wild card Tim Smyczek was the only American left in the field.
Unless Smyczek manages to beat Marcel Granollers on Sunday, there will be no Americans in the men's singles round-of-16; the first time that has ever happened in the US Open, dating back to 1881.
In the women's draw, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka took 2 hours, 40 minutes to close out Alize Cornet 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2.
Serving on game point at 5-3 in the second, Azarenka pumped her fist and started walking off the court after the 26th-seeded Cornet hit a backhand into the net. The chair umpire had to get her attention to inform her that the line judge had called Azarenka's previous shot out - replays showed it landed inside the baseline. The umpire overruled the call, but they still had to replay the point.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" Azarenka howled to the chair ump. "What the hell are you doing?"
After the match, she put it this way: "That was the most ridiculous thing there is."
On her second try at set point, Azarenka hit a forehand wide to send the game to deuce. But she won the next two points to clinch the set, after all.
Then she dominated the third to advance to face 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who beat young American Christina McHale 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory in 2 hours, 26 minutes. McHale served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and had two break points at 5-5.
While McHale lost, another young American Alison Riske pulled off an impressive scalp by cruising past former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-0. The Czech had been in bed with a fever the day before. "My body wouldn't let me fight," Kvitova said.
Simona Halep, seeded 21st, crushed No. 14 Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-0, setting up a clash with Flavia Pennetta, who beat 27th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1.
No. 10 Roberta Vinci will face unseeded Camila Giorgi in an all-Italian match. The 136th-ranked Giorgi defeated 2009 US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, who was seeded sixth, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
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