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Nadal enjoys Kiefer's late-night challenge in New York

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point against Nicolas Kiefer of Germany during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 4, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point against Nicolas Kiefer of Germany during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 4, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky
</head> <body> <p>By Larry Fine</p> <p>NEW YORK (Reuters) - What started out as a rout turned into a war of attrition for Rafael Nadal on Friday, the stiff test leaving the third-seeded Spaniard feeling better prepared for an assault on a first U.S. Open title.</p> <p>"It was a very good practice for me, no?" the 23-year-old Nadal told reporters after his 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4 second round victory over German Nicolas Kiefer that closed out the night session on the fifth day of play at the National Tennis Center.</p> <p>The 32-year-old Kiefer burst into life after a 24-minute first-set blitz from Nadal and slugged it out toe-to-toe with the Spaniard for the remainder of the match.</p> <p>"Playing three hours is a very good test," said Nadal, who has competed in just two tournaments since shutting down his season for two months following the French Open because of tendinitis in his knees.</p> <p>"At the same time it's important. First day, I didn't have any bad moment, any pressure moment," he said about his straight-sets opening win against France's Richard Gasquet.</p> <p>"Today I had to do more."</p> <p>Nadal won the last two sets on the strength of one service break in each but the muscular Spaniard held Kiefer at bay by not facing a break point after the second set.</p> <p>TOP 16</p> <p>Kiefer, ranked as high as world number four in 2000, had never won a set against Nadal in four previous meetings.</p> <p>"I think he was getting a little tired," the 129th-ranked Kiefer told reporters. "I could see it, I could feel it. He didn't move so good. But a win is a win, and a loss is a loss.</p> <p>"Today was the first time I was thinking I could really beat him."</p> <p>Nadal's victory meant that the top 16 men's seeds advanced to the third round for the first time in a grand slam.</p> <p>"(There are) Very good players right now at the top," Nadal explained.</p> <p>"The best players are winning. They don't have strange losses. I think that's good for tennis."</p> <p>Nadal, however, was not as complimentary about the timing of his match.</p> <p>"It's too late," he said. "One-fifteen (a.m.). I have to have dinner. Before 3:30 a.m. is impossible to be sleeping. I think it is a little bit late."</p> <p>Told he could ring his friends back home in Mallorca because it would be after seven in the morning there, Nadal smiled.</p> <p>"Yeah. They're probably coming back from a party," he said.</p> <p>Nadal's third-round opponent will be countryman Nicolas Almagro, who edged out American Robby Ginepri in five sets.</p> <p>(Editing by John O'Brien)</p> </body> </html> </div><!-- end article-body --> </div><!-- end aticle-body-wrapper --> <aside> <ul class="social-share-btns clearfix"> <li><g:plusone size="medium" href="http://wsau.com/news/articles/2009/sep/05/nadal-prevails-over-kiefer-to-reach-third-round/"></g:plusone></li> <li><div id="fb-root"></div><script src="http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#appId=112315878855956&xfbml=1"></script><fb:like href="http://wsau.com/news/articles/2009/sep/05/nadal-prevails-over-kiefer-to-reach-third-round/" action="recommend" send="true" layout="button_count" width="150" show_faces="false" font=""></fb:like></li> <li><a href="http://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-url="http://wsau.com/news/articles/2009/sep/05/nadal-prevails-over-kiefer-to-reach-third-round/" 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