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Nadal Overcomes Slow Start, Dogged Daniel At US Open

It's not how you start, but how you finish. Rafael Nadal escaped a stern test from World No. 121 Taro Daniel to reach the third round at the US Open on Thursday.

Nadal rallied from a set and a break down to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at 12:30am in New York, discovering his top gear at the critical moment under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Spaniard struck 20 winners to 24 unforced errors in the first two sets, but turned the match around in a flash, finishing with 20 winners to just 11 unforced errors in the third and fourth.

Rafael Nadal outlasts Taro Daniel in a four-set victory to reach the third round of the US Open.
Top seed Nadal booked his spot in the third round for a third straight year, claiming a tour-leading 51st match win of the season. The two-time US Open champion (2010 & '13) will next face lucky loser Leonardo Mayer on Saturday.

Japan's Daniel was not intimidated by the bright lights and electric atmosphere on Ashe, swinging freely from the back of the court and pressing Nadal into uncomfortable positions. The 24 year old was aggressive in the early stages, stepping into the court and firing his forehand from side to side. Nadal had no answer as he broke for 5-4 in the first set, closed out the opener and surged to an early break lead in the second.

But just as fast as Daniel took control, Nadal fired back. The World No. 1 found his range as the Japanese looked to consolidate the break in the second set, breaking right back and halting Daniel's momentum. Nadal would sprint to the finish line from there, dropping just five of the next 23 games for the two-hour and 53-minute win.

A spot in the Round of 16 will be on the line when Nadal and Mayer meet for the fourth time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The Spaniard has won all seven sets played, most recently taking a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 decision at Roland Garros in 2014.

Mayer advanced to the third round on Thursday after defeating Yuichi Sugita 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. The Argentine is in the midst of a seven-match win streak as a lucky loser, having lifted the trophy at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Hamburg in July. He lost in the final round of qualifying there, as well as in New York, where he has since rallied from as set down to defeat both Richard Gasquet and Sugita.

Mayer is the first lucky loser to reach the third round at the US Open since Flavio Cipolla in 2008.

Source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/us-open-2017-thursday-nadal-mayer

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