Leonardo Mayer of Argentina (L) hits a return to Rafael Nadal of Spain on the six day of the US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 02 September 2017. EPA pic
Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Argentina's Leonardo Mayer during their 2017 US Open Men's Singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York . AFP pic

NEW YORK: World number one Rafael Nadal recovered from a set down for the second match in succession to reach the US Open last 16 for a ninth time on Saturday, beating Argentine lucky loser Leonardo Mayer 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

The 31-year-old Nadal took his record over the world number 59 from Buenos Aires to 4-0 and will face Ukraine’s Alexander Dolgopolov for a place in the quarter-finals.

Nadal had also dropped the first set of his second-round match against Japan’s Taro Daniel before winning in four.

Saturday was almost a carbon copy with the 15-time major winner unable to convert any of six points in the opener.

But the match turned in the 10-minute seventh game of the second set when, on his 14th break point of the encounter, he finally smashed his way through.

After the first two sets took over an hour each to complete, Nadal swept through the third with breaks in the second and sixth games in just 26 minutes.

There was no way back for Mayer, who ended the match with 52 unforced errors and his record against top 10 opponents at 1-25.

Going into the fourth round, Nadal leads world number 64 Dolgopolov 6-2 in career meetings.

The Ukrainian has made the last 16 at the US Open for the first time since 2011. — AFP

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