By Simon Cambers
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal, with his troublesome left wrist improving every day, will be eyeing more progress at the U.S. Open on Friday when he bids for a place in the last 16.
The two-time champion, who suffered the injury at the French Open and then missed Wimbledon, showed his form when he reached the semi-finals of the singles and won the doubles gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month.
Nadal takes on Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov in the third round, knowing that with each win his chances of a third U.S. Open are likely to be talked up.
“The real thing is (it is) not a big thing be in the third round again,” Nadal said. “But for sure every match is important.
“That’s my philosophy. That’s my way to play every tournament.
“Next round is a very tough opponent. I know him well. I played him this year I think at the beginning of the season in Doha.
“He’s an aggressive player. He has lots of big shots from the baseline and he’s very dangerous.
“I need to improve, playing longer, playing higher, changing speeds, changing the rhythm of the ball with the slice, and then every time I need to hit more forehand winners.”
World number one Novak Djokovic, fresh from two days off after his second-round opponent Jiri Vesely pulled out, will look for rhythm against another Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Last year’s runner-up, Italy’s Roberta Vinci, takes on Carina Witthoeft of Germany for a place in the last 16 of the women’s event.
Second seed Angelique Kerber faces American CiCi Bellis while two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki are also in action.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)