Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer moved closer to a first-ever US Open meeting with second-round triumphs on Thursday, while women’s top seeds Serena Williams and Victoria Azaranka also advanced.
Spanish second seed Nadal, a 12-time Grand Slam winner who has nine titles since ending a seven-month injury layoff in February, beat Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-2, 6-1, 6-0 in 92 minutes at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I was solid with my serve,” said Nadal, who hit 69 percent of his first serves.
Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who at the seventh seed is in his lowest spot at the US Open since 2002, fired 37 winners in beating Argentina’s 48th-ranked Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 after 95 minutes.
“I was pretty comfortable out there, so that was a good sign,” Federer said. “It’s one of those matches I expect myself to win in straight sets and gain confidence in the process. All those things happened so I’m pleased about it.”
Federer, who swept the New York hard-court crowns from 2004 to 2008, and Nadal, whose 2010 US Open title completed a career Grand Slam, could meet for the first time at the US Open in the quarter-finals.
On the women’s side, defending champion Williams downed 77th-ranked Galina Voskoboeva 6-3, 6-0, while Belarussian second seed Azarenka beat Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3, 6-1.
However, Italian fourth seed Sara Errani made a tearful exit, with last year’s US Open semi-finalist and French Open runner-up falling to friend and compatriot Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-1.
Eight-time French Open champion Nadal, 27, will next risk his career-best 17-match hard-court win streak against Croatian Ivan Dodig, who is 1-1 all-time against Nadal and upset him in their most recent meeting in the second round at Montreal in 2011 by winning a third-set tiebreaker.
Federer, 32, next faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who defeated 26th seed Sam Querrey, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4. Federer won both of their prior meetings, in the 2011 second round at Paris and Wimbledon.
Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer and French eighth seed Richard Gasquet kept rolling toward their own potential quarter-final by beating countrymen, with Ferrer dispatching Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 and Gasquet dumping out Stephane Robert 6-3, 7-5, 7-5.
World No. 1 Williams, who would become the oldest US Open women’s champion at 31 if she repeats, advanced her quest for a 17th Grand Slam title and fifth Open crown with ease. She faces Russian-born Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova next.
Two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka, who beat Williams earlier this month in the final at Cincinnati, booked a match against French 26th seed Alize Cornet for a spot in the last 16.
Dan Evans’ magical US Open journey hit new heights on Thursday when he beat Bernard Tomic, the Australian firebrand who once refused to practice with him claiming the British player was not good enough.
The 23-year-old world No. 179, who had never won a Grand Slam match before this week, took revenge for that slur by seeing off the 52nd-ranked Tomic 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 to make the third round.
It was a win which followed his shock straight-sets win over Japanese 11th seed Kei Nishikori in the first round, having also played three tough qualifying matches.
The triumph was fueled at resentment of Tomic’s controversial father John, who refused to allow his son to hit with Evans in Miami last year, insisting the Briton was not a worthy opponent.
“His dad sort of fobbed me off and said I wasn’t good enough to practice with him,” Evans said.
“We went to practice. It was all booked. Got to the court. In Miami, there’s a little practice hut. I got to the practice hut. No, no, he’s a qualifier, I’m not hitting with you. A bit embarrassing, but hey. I don’t think it was Bernard’s doing. He wasn’t there,” Evans said.
Evans went into Thursday’s clash buoyed by having practiced with Federer 24 hours earlier.
“I thought he played really nice; got a great shot,” Federer said.
Evans said he was overjoyed to be given the opportunity to practice with Federer.
“It was amazing actually to hit with someone so good. I really enjoyed it. Actually had a really good hit. It was a very good experience to hit with someone like that. A nice guy. Was interested in what I did. It was good,” he said.
What was not good for Evans on Court 17 on Thursday was having to call the trainer after developing an embarrassing case of nipple rash.
“I don’t know what it was. It was just agony. Oh, the stick I’m going to get back home is, like, devastating,” the Briton said.