Tennis: Rafael Nadal serves warning at US Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to�fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in New York. Picture: AP

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to�fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in New York. Picture: AP

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Rafael Nadal produced a stunning display to trounce fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the quarter-finals of the US Open this morning.

Nadal was completely dominant in a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

This was supposed to be the long-awaited first meeting in New York between Nadal and Roger Federer but Robredo spoiled the party in the fourth round.

It cannot have felt like much of a prize as he won only five points in a first set that lasted just 22 minutes.

Robredo had managed only one set in six previous meetings with Nadal, who has an excellent record against his fellow Spanish baseliners.

There was a huge cheer from the night crowd on Arthur Ashe when Robredo finally won a game in the second set, but by that stage he was already 2-0 down.

Nadal has not had his serve broken all tournament and Robredo could not put him under any real pressure.

As soon as Nadal broke in the fifth game of the third set the match was as good as over, although to his credit Robredo did not stop fighting.

The victory took Nadal’s record on hard courts this year to 20 wins and no defeats, and he will be a big favourite to defeat Richard Gasquet in the semi-finals. Nadal said of his performance: “I’m happy. I think I played my best match of the US Open. I’m playing a little bit better every day and it’s a great year. I’m very happy to be in the semi-finals. I want to enjoy every moment.” Earlier, Gasquet posted a landmark five-set victory over David Ferrer.

The Frenchman is one of the most talented players on tour but too often his nerve has failed him in big matches.

Having dominated the first two sets, Gasquet looked set to suffer another heartbreaking loss when fourth seed Ferrer fought back to level the match.

But this time it was Gasquet who came good in the decider to clinch a 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 victory after three hours and 23 minutes.

Of the 27-year-old’s last six five-set defeats at grand slams, five of them have come after he was two sets up.

But there have been signs this season that Gasquet was ready to leave his reputation behind him.

And he showed in his fourth-round victory over Milos Raonic, where he saved a match point in the fourth set before going on to win in five, that he could battle and win.

Gasquet said: “I’ve lost some (five-setters), but I won some, too. So it’s in the middle. I knew in the fifth set it was a very important set for me. For sure, it’s one of my biggest victories.”

Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka has warned Andy Murray he is in the form of his life as they prepare to meet in the quarter-finals later today.

The pair are good friends and often practise together so there will be no secrets, but Wawrinka hopes he can surprise Murray with the quality of his play.

The Swiss has returned to the top ten this summer for the first time since 2008 and stunned fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. Murray may be slightly relieved he does not have to face Berdych, who he has a losing record against, but he has not had an easy time against Wawrinka either.

The Scot leads their head to head 8-5 but his last early loss at a grand slam came against Wawrinka here in the third round in 2010, while the world No.10 lost just three games in beating Murray in their most recent meeting on clay in Monte Carlo this spring.

This year Wawrinka has shown more consistency and produced some stunning displays, none better than in the epic match he played against Novak Djokovic in the fourth round at the Australian Open, which he lost 12-10 in the fifth set.

Wawrinka highlighted the title he won in Portugal in May as a key moment and said of his improved form: “It’s confidence, for sure. This is for sure my best year. I think I’m playing my best tennis ever. Andy is a really good player. It’s always a tough match, but I like to play him. I like his game. I think if I start well, if I stay with him, I can have a good chance to do something.”

Murray has not hit top form yet and knows he will need to play a better match than he did against Denis Istomin in the fourth round.

He said of Wawrinka: “He’s improved this year quite a bit.

“He has a very good backhand. He serves well. He’s solid up at the net. He makes a lot of returns. He makes it very tricky for you. He’s a top player. It will be a very tough match for me.”

Novak Djokovic faces Mikhail Youzhny in the remaining quarter-final in tonight’s evening session.

In the women’s singles, Victoria Azarenka will take on Flavia Pennetta in the semi-finals after breezing past Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3.

Pennetta had earlier joined Serena Williams and Li Na in the last four by overcoming her fellow Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-1.