From Bleacher Report – Tennis http://bleacherreport.com/articles/835296-us-open-2011-results-rafael-nadal-and-andy-murray-advance-to-round-of-16
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and World No. 4 Andy Murray were both in action at the U.S. Open on Sunday, and the day ended with both of them punching their tickets to the Round of 16.
That’s about the only thing Nadal and Murray had in common on Sunday. Exactly how they punched their tickets to the next round at Flushing Meadows is a different story entirely.
Allow me to tell the tale.
How Nadal Won
In so many words, not easily. Matched up against unseeded Argentinian David Nalbandian, Nadal was in a fight for his life from the very start. Nalbandian came out like a man possessed in the first set, and it would be over an hour before Nadal would take it 7-6 (7-5).
Luckily for Nadal, the second set was much easier by comparison, as it took him less than a half hour to win it 6-1.
In the third set, Nadal looked like he was well on his way when he was up 5-3, but Nabaldian battled back to tie it 5-5. From there, it took seemingly every ounce of strength Nadal had in him to wrap it up 7-5.
So in the end, the line read 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 7-5 and a victory for Nadal. The key stat: 60 unforced errors for Nalbandian, as opposed to just 18 for Nadal.
The toll the match took on Nadal became abundantly evident immediately after. While in a press conference, the word from ESPN is that Nadal’s leg cramped up so bad it actually forced him to double over in pain. He insisted it was no big deal, but you have to think it’s something to monitor going forward.
How Murray Won
Several hours after Nadal concluded his lengthy bout with Nalbandian, Murray would go on to breeze past Feliciano Lopez, the No. 25 seed.
The first set was in the bag as soon as Murray took the first 14 points, and it ended up taking him a grand total of just 26 minutes to take it 6-1.
To his credit, Lopez would mount a charge in the second set. He threw everything he had at Murray, and did a fine job of making him work, but Murray ended up taking it 6-4.
That was pretty much the end of the line for Lopez. He managed to win a couple of games in the third set, but Murray was able to take it 6-2.
In the end, Murray was the victor 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in a match that lasted a little under two hours. Unforced errors were once again the key stat, as Lopez made 44 to Murray’s 16.
What’s Next for Nadal and Murray
Next up for Nadal is a matchup against Gilles Müller. The 28-year-old Luxembourgian is unseeded, but he boasts a hard serve that consistently tops 120 MPH, and topped out at 128 MPH in his third-round match against Igor Kunitsyn on Sunday. He could very well give Nadal a run for his money.
Murray, meanwhile, is slated to face 22-year-old American Donald Young. The two hooked up earlier this year at the BNP Paribas Open, and Young came away as the surprise winner.
Right now, it’s certainly possible that Nadal and Murray will meet face-to-face before the year’s last Grand Slam is over, as they are currently on pace to face each other in the semifinals.
It’s not going to be easy for Nadal to get there, though. If and when he gets past Müller, he’ll be slated to face the winner of David Ferrer’s showdown with Andy Roddick. If Nadal can’t recover the form he showed in his first two matches at Flushing Meadows, he may not stand much of a chance against either one of them.
If Murray gets past Young, which is not necessarily a given, he will be up against the winner of John Isner vs. Gilles Simon. Either one of them will pose a challenge as well.
If both Nadal and Murray are able to overcome their challengers, then they will meet for the right to go to the final.
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