US OPEN

Amid swirling winds at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Rafael Nadal earned a semifinal berth at the U.S. Open on Thursday and moved within two wins of completing a career grand slam.This win has moved Nadal one step closer to a showdown with Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final.

The world’s top-ranked player downed Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the tournament’s first all-Spanish quarterfinal. His next match is with Mikhail Youzhny, who outlasted Stanislas Wawrinka in a five set match, while Federer plays Novak Djokovic.

Washington Post headlined it as “The 2010 Reign of Spain Continues,” referring to Spain’s successful sports year, which included winning soccer’s World Cup and the Tour de France.

Nadal has won the Australian Open once, the French Open five times and Wimbledon twice, but he has never reached the finals of the U.S. Open. The 24-year-old left-hander reached the semifinals the past two years and the final eluded him.

A win in this tournament would make him the seventh man to claim all four majors in a career. He would join Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi and Federer.

Nadal, 24, who lost in the U.S. Open semifinals the past two years, has a 7-4 career record against Youzhny, who said he hopes to deny a Nadal-Federer final even though he realizes it’s the match most tennis fans want to see.

Nadal is seeking his third consecutive major title, having defeated Robin Soderling in the finals of the French Open this year and Tomas Berdych in the title match at Wimbledon.

Till date, Nadal and Federer have met seven times in Grand Slam finals — at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open. The only major title they haven’t faced each other for is the U.S. Open, where Federer is a five-time champion and Nadal is seeking a win to complete a career Grand Slam.

“For sure Roger is the favorite,” Nadal said. “No one doubts that. I am in semifinals, so I don’t think about the final. I hope to keep playing well and have my chance.”


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