Rafael Nadal gets smooched, advances

I didn’t say it was from a woman! How scary would it be to see some rambunctious fan storming at you, knowing what’s previously happened to Monica Seles? Still, once Nadal sensed the fan’s innocent yet homoerotic intentions, the talented Spaniard welcomed him with open arms. I heard these guys on the radio the other day — I forget which program — comparing Rafael Nadal to Alex Rodriguez, saying each is the most hated player in their respective sport. Are you kidding me? What’s not to like about Nadal? I think fans just don’t want to accept that, when 100 percent, he can beat Roger Federer on any surface.

He’s played well thus far, recently defeating Fernando Gonzalez after two days of rain postponed the match.

“I can’t tell you, because I don’t have the answer,” Gonzalez said when asked to explain his quick disintegration.

Though Nadal’s sore abdominals are still a concern, he certainly wasn’t overtaxed in this match, as he headed into what could be a very long weekend.

A match that had been a taut, well-played affair got postponed Thursday night with Nadal leading 3-2 in the second-set tiebreaker. They had to wait out an entire day of rain before coming back to the court to resume under overcast skies and temperatures in the 60s.

Final numbers: 59 unforced errors for Gonzalez to 13 for Nadal; Nadal won 31 of the 43 points played after the restart. The whole affair took 34 minutes to wrap up.

As of right now, the men’s semifinals are scheduled to take place on Sunday. Roger Federer will take on Novak Djokavic and Juan Martin del Potro will try his luck against Nadal. That is, of course, if the rain doesn’t push everything back to next year.

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U.S. Open Update: Everything taking its course

The third round of the 2009 U.S. Open has nearly finished amidst the surprisingly welcoming weather at New York’s National Tennis Center. So far, there haven’t been many surprises. The top 16-ranked men all advanced rather seamlessly. Serena and Venus have had an easy time as well. Unfortunately, they are in the same draw and will likely meet in the semis. The other top female players are, as always, playing below their rank, as upsets and narrow victories are happening left and right.

This has been a topsy-turvy U.S. Open for the women: No. 8 Victoria Azarenka’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to No. 26 Francesca Schiavone on Friday came a day after No. 4 Elena Dementieva and No. 5 Jelena Jankovic were upset. All told, 11 of the 20 highest-seeded women are gone, and the third round is only halfway done.

No. 1 Dinara Safina made it to Saturday’s third round, but barely. She needed more than 4 1/2 hours to get through two three-set victories.

The best men have faced no such problems: No. 3 Rafael Nadal’s 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday night in the last match of Day 5 means the men seeded 1-16 all reached the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in the 41-year Open era.

Once again, the lovely Ana Ivanovic failed to perform well in a Grand Slam, losing to Kateryna Bondarenko in the first round. Maria Sharapova, however, has advanced to third round and is currently in the third set against American Melanie Oudin. It would be great to see the former No. 1-ranked star face Serena or Venus in the finals.

Nadal to play in Montreal

Nadal

After his two month absence from tennis because of knee injuries, Rafael Nadal will attempt to defend his title at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Nadal says on his Web site that he’ll arrive in Montreal on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Aug. 10-16 hardcourt event. He is the defending champion.

Nadal has been out of action with tendinitis in both knees since losing at the French Open on May 31. He also will play in Cincinnati ahead of the U.S. Open, the only Grand Slam tournament he has never won.

Rogers Cup spokesman Louis-Philippe Dorais says organizers expect to hear from top-ranked Roger Federer in the next few days on whether he will play.

This is great news, especially since the U.S. Open is less than a month away. Though this year in tennis has belonged to Roger Federer, it’s been exciting to watch Andy Roddick regain some clout on the court. Since Roddick is pretty much the only male American representative tennis has, that’s the guy I’ll be rooting for. Still, the ATP needs more than two stars. Hopefully Nadal hasn’t lost a step and the Rogers Cup will be a good indication of whether or not he’ll be able to hold his ground at the U.S. Open.

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