New York After one early miss, Rafael Nadal slapped himself in the right thigh. After another, he put his hands on his hips and stared at the spot where his shot went awry.
It did not take long for Nadal to put a slightly slow start behind him and move one step closer to the only Grand Slam title he hasn’t won.
The top-seeded Nadal figured out how to handle the wind that’s plagued the tournament, got his serve in gear after being broken for the only time in five matches, and beat Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 Thursday night in the first all-Spanish quarterfinal in U.S. Open history.
Nadal’s streak of 62 consecutive holds of serve ended in Thursday’s third game, when he put a forehand in the net, allowing Verdasco to break him at love to go ahead 2-1. Nadal wouldn’t face another break point the rest of the match, though, and won the last 13 points he served in the second set.
In the very early going, Verdasco played the brand of point-extending, opponent-dispiriting defense that Nadal is so well-known for. But Nadal broke back to get to 4-all, thanks to Verdasco’s two double-faults in a row, and suddenly was seeming more and more comfortable.
Nadal has won his last 19 Grand Slam matches, including titles in 2010 at the French Open and Wimbledon.