Rafael Nadal met Leonardo Mayer for the second straight Grand Slam. The two dueled off in New York at the US Open in a four set affair which saw Nadal struggle to convert break points before rolling once he got going.
The top seed didn't have much trouble this time around, defeating Mayer in 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4). Nadal will now face Damir Dzumhur for a spot in the second week of the Australian Open.
Nadal Rolls In Opening Set
Like the US Open, Mayer ran into some early trouble on his serve. An error from the back of the court gave the world number one break point. Unlike the US Open though, Nadal was able to convert on his first opportunity to go up 3-1. The top seed faced double break point as he looked to consolidate the break. He fended both off as Mayer would chat with the chair umpire about the call on 30-40 which was challenged and won by Nadal. The world number one held for a 4-1 lead.
Both players held as the score went to 5-2 with Mayer serving to stay in the set. Nadal had looked to take the set on the Argentine's serve but some timely hitting from Mayer saved four set points, including three from 0-40 down, to hold for 5-3. Nadal needed no trouble closing out the 30-year-old on his serve though to take the opening set 6-3.
Early Break Sees Nadal Sees Nadal Through
The 30-year-old Argentine opened the set serving. Nadal opened up the lead on a cross-court forehand winner and then setup double break point on a short-angled backhand return winner. The Spaniard went up the break and held to 30 to consolidate the break.
Mayer got on the board after a nice serve-and-volley play. Neither player was having trouble on their serve until Mayer was having slight problems on his serve. He saved two break points as the top seed was looking for an opportunity to serve out for the second set. The Argentine held his ground, but Nadal still closed out the set 6-4.
Nadal Faces Slight Wobble But Takes It In Straights
The world number one was looking to pounce early to try and close it out, but the Argentine was not going to make life easy for him. Nadal had triple break point in the fifth game but a couple of winners from Mayer brought it back to deuce as he eventually held to keep it on serve at 3-2.
Nadal would go break point down in the next service game but went with a classic tactic to save it. He hit the wide forehand on the ad-side to the backhand of the right-hander and finished it off with a forehand down the line. The Spaniard kept it on serve at three-all.
The world number one got that break he needed in the ninth game of the set. Despite Mayer leading 40-15, the Argentine had a few loose points and an errant backhand long yielded a huge "Come on!" from Nadal.
Serving for the match, the world number one gave the break right back. Two huge forehands set up the initial break point, but it was the second one which saw Mayer bring it back to five apiece after a stunning backhand return winner.
Nadal went up the mini-break to start the third set tiebreak but a forehand pass put him up 3-2. He followed that up with another pass, this time off the backhand wing to go up 4-2. Serving up 5-4, a cross-court forehand winner set up double match point, and a huge unreturnable serve out wide closed out the match for Nadal in straights.