NEW YORK // The US Open is the only grand slam title missing from Rafael Nadal's CV, yet the world No 1 is not obsessed about winning in New York and joining an illustrious group of tennis greats. He will no doubt be confident of making further progress when he faces Gilles Simon, the unseeded Frenchman, in the third round at Flushing Meados after his 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory over Denis Istomin, of Uzbekistan.
But the 24-year-old Spaniard told reporters after his second round win: "Seriously, for me, to complete the Grand Slam at this moment is not a goal. "For me the goal is to try to improve my level, to play well ... probably the pressure is going to be there if I am in the final [but] I am five matches away, so [it] is a lot." Nadal, winner of the French Open five times, Wimbledon twice and the Australian Open once, has come to Flushing Meadows armed with a faster serve and an improved volley that could push him beyond the semi-finals, where his past two US Open campaigns have ended.
Nadal did not drop serve against the unseeded Istomin, producing eight aces and clocking a fastest delivery of 216 kph. The Spaniard also won 13 of 19 points at the net. "For the moment, it's working really well," he said about his serve. "So I'm going to try to keep playing like this. Serving like this is a big confidence in my game." The Spaniard, who would join current world No 2 Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Fred Perry, Rod Laver and Don Budge if he completes a career Grand Slam of all four major titles, said an adjustment made just before the US Open had made a difference in his service delivery.
"I changed a little bit the grip, like five or six days ago," Nadal said. "So I tried to play the serve a little bit more aggressive." * Reuters