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Nadal breezes past Harrison at US Open

ESPN staff
August 26, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Rafael Nadal has yet to lose on a hard court in 2013 © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal showed why he is the favourite to win the US Open after he cruised to a 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory over Ryan Harrison.

Returning to world No. 2 following his back-to-back triumphs in Montreal and Cincinnati, Nadal extends his unbeaten run on a hard court to 16 matches as he is yet to taste defeat on this surface in 2013.

The eight-time French Open champion is eyeing a second crown at Flushing Meadows, and his level of performance continues to remain high as he collects his 54th match win of the year in 57 encounters, his career-best start to a campaign.

Nadal picked up from where he left off in Cincinnati, dominating his opponent right from the start and getting the immediate break in taking the first two games.

Harrison collected his first game of the tie to halve the deficit, but with plenty of errors to his name he was making life easy for Nadal.

As the set went on, Harrison improved and continued to hold serve to put pressure on Nadal, hitting the ball extremely hard that not even Nadal could get a racket on.

Nadal then started to raise his game with some quick all-round action, forcing Harrison to cover every inch of the court just to stay in the rallies.

And Harrison was never able to recover the break back as Nadal served out the opening set to move in front.

After the first two games were shared in the second set, Nadal made his move in the third game to break Harrison in superb style. Always looking second-best in the rally as Harrison was intent on saving a couple of break points, Nadal turned defence into attack with a ferocious forehand on the run to convert the break.

Nadal consolidated the break to go 3-1 up, and once Harrison closed the gap to one, Nadal secured the insurance of a double break before romping to the set at 6-2.

And Nadal was relentless in the third set he needed to clinch the win, racing into a 4-0 lead and then taking it 6-2 to comfortably reach the second round.

James Blake meanwhile has announced this year's US Open will be his last event as he will retire after 14 years in the sport.

Blake, 33, has slipped to 100 in the world rankings and has struggled with injuries in recent years.

"Despite the tears, I'm actually really happy about this," an emotional Blake said at his press conference on Monday. "It was becoming clearer and clearer most of this year. Little things throughout the year made it more obvious to me that this was the right time. Now it's crystal clear and I'm happy about it."

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