views

Devastating Nadal fires a title warning

RAFAEL NADAL turned on the style to fire a title warning to his rivals last night after easing into the second round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.<br /><br />The 23-year-old has sat out much of the summer with a knee injury and has slipped to No3 in the world rankings with Roger Federer and Andy Murray enjoying success in his absence.<br /><br />Despite winning six Grand Slams, Nadal has never even reached the final at New York and faces a potential showdown with new world No2 Murray in the semi-finals. But the Spaniard showed a devastating return to form with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 demolition of Frenchman Richard Gasquet in just one hour 40 minutes to earn a second round clash with Nicolas Kiefer, of Germany.<br /><br />But while Nadal was planning his assault on a first New York title, 2000 champion Marat Safin was bidding a sad farewell to his Grand Slam career after bowing out with a whimper to Austrian Jurgen Melzer, going down 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.<br /><br />Another former Grand Slam champion to crash out was former Australian Open and Wimbledon winner, Amelie Mauresmo, who fired down 31 unforced errors on her way to a disappointing 6-4, 6-0 defeat by unseeded Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the Kim Clijsters comeback gathered further momentum after the Belgian former world No1 battled back from a set down to beat 14th seed Marion Bartoli 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.<br /><br />Unseeded Clijsters, playing her first Grand Slam since coming out of her two-year retirement, plays compatriot Kirsten Flipkens next and could meet No3 seed Venus Williams in the fourth round after she cruised past fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-2.