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U.S. Open: Rafael Nadal wins; queasy Flavia Pennetta into quarterfinals

September 4, 2011 | 11:28 am


Flavia Pennetta, a 29-year-old Italian who was vomiting on court and was searching for shady spots the longer her fourth-round match went against 13th-seeded Peng Shuai of China on Sunday at the U.S. Open, overcame a 5-0 deficit in the second-set tiebreak and moved into the quarterfinals for the third time with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win.

Peng, who is 25, converted only 31% of the break points she earned (five of 16) in the 2 hour and 31 minute match, and that wasn't good enough. Pennetta, the aggressor, had 41 winners but 34 unforced errors and for much of the second set she staggered between points and would drop into her chair during changeovers as if she was hoping there would be a seat beneath her weary body.

Pennetta might be familiar to Los Angeles fans. She won the last WTA event held at the Home Depot Center in 2009 and shortly after she became the first Italian woman ever ranked in the top 10. Her two U.S. Open quarterfinals are her best Grand Slam-level finishes. She played three sets and nearly three hours in the third round to upset third-seeded Maria Sharapova.

Defending men's champion Rafael Nadal, who called for the trainer once for treatment on his foot, beat unseeded David Nalbandian  of Argentina, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5, in 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Nadal, seeded second, has won 10 career Grand Slam titles and is the fourth man in history who owns at least one title in each of the four majors.

"It was a tough day," Nadal said, referring to the wind and humidity that caused Nadal to change shirts at least five times during the match. Nadal said the key to the match was in the first set. "Coming back when he was serving for the set 5-4," Nadal said, "Coming back from that."

He said the trainer came out at the start of the third set to work on a blister on his right foot. "It was a very hot day," Nadal said. "Just a little blister, nothing important. I am lucky."


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-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York

Photo: Flavia Pennetta breathes a sigh of relief after defeating Peng Shuai on Sunday at the U.S. Open. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images