NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal eased into the US Open last 16 on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Croatia’s Ivan Dodig with his only concerns being a shortage of towels and a worrying pass by a low-flying jet.
The second-seeded Nadal, a 12-time major winner and the 2010 champion in New York, hit 37 winners and faced just two break points and goes on to face either American 13th seed John Isner or Philip Kohlschreiber, the 22nd seed from Germany, for a quarter-final spot.
Passage to the last eight could mean a first-ever US Open showdown against old rival Roger Federer.
“I started the match with a high intensity. I lost to Ivan the last time we played in Montreal and he won two hard matches here against Fernando Verdasco, a lefty like me, and Nikolay Davydenko,” said Nadal.
“I think I played my best match of the week so far today.”
Nadal, who has yet to drop serve in three rounds so far, admitted it was an emotional experience returning to New York after missing the 2012 tournament through injury.
“This court is very special. I have many unforgettable memories of this court so thank you for making me feel like I am at home,” added the Spaniard, whose title in New York in 2010 allowed him to compelete the career Grand Slam.
The 27-year-old Nadal, who has collected nine titles since his return from a seven-month injury layoff in February, was never troubled by world number 38 Dodig, who beat the Spaniard the last time they met in Montreal in 2011.
His win took his year record to 56 victories against just three losses and extended his run on hard courts to 18-0.
Breaks in the third games of the first two sets provided the foundation with another in the fourth of the third set allowing Nadal to breeze through.
Nadal was more concerned by the shortage of towels on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“They should have 10 towels,” said the Spaniard during a match played under crippling humidity.
Midway through the second set, Nadal shuddered briefly as a jet heading into nearby LaGuardia Airport made a low, roaring pass over Flushing Meadows.
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