Serena Williams had to battle it out against an ambitious Kiki Bertens to reach the round of 32 of the US Open on Wednesday.
But Rafael Nadal outlasted Diego Schwartzman, Marin Cilic and Novak Djokovic subdued their respective opponents in their night session matches in Arthur Ashe Stadium, while the world No. 1 has yet to face a break point in this year’s tournament.
Two-time women’s singles winner Venus Williams gave countrywoman Irina Falconi too much to handle on her way to a 6-3 6-7 6-2 win.
Nadal did it anyway
Eighth seed Rafael Nadal saw off Schwartzman 7-6(5) 6-3 7-5 to secure his 750th tour level win and set up a third-round tie with Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
Schwartzman raced to an early break lead in the third set, but Nadal broke back to avoid the match dragging into a fourth period. The Majorcan finished with eight aces and 38 winners and claimed six out of 12 break point opportunities.
“I think I served well today,” said Nadal, who has only lost once in his last 23 matches at the US Open. “My serve was working well. I think I had the match under control at the beginning playing well. Then I played a bad game with the 5-3. Then the match became a little bit more crazy (with) some ups and downs.
“Today I felt that I was practising great before the match, and yesterday, too. I felt that during the match I didn’t arrive to that high level that I was practising before. But it’s true that he played really well. Even if he had break up in the second and in the third, I had a lot of 0/30s, 15/30s, a lot of opportunities during the whole match to have I think a more comfortable victory.”
Nadal’s next opponent Fognini defeated Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniard leads the Italian 5-2 on their career head-to-head record, but has dropped two of three decisions in 2015, including a semi-final encounter in Rio de Janeiro and a meeting in Barcelona.
Williams overcomes tough Bertens
Williams recorded her 50th win in 2015 against Dutch qualifier Bertens, but it was not all plain sailing for the 34-year-old American.
Serena’s 23-year-old opponent came up with some big-hitting tennis on Wednesday evening, breaking the 21-time Grand Slam champion in the third game and then taking three seprate leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3, but the world No. 1 took it to a tie-break
Williams then rallied from 4-0 down in the tie-break, claiming seven of the next eight points to take the first set 7-6(7-5).
The world No. 1 did regain her solidity in an impressive second set display to seal a 7-6(5) 6-3 win.
“Today I just said, ‘One point at a time,'” Williams said. “When I get down, I tend to get really relaxed and I start to play a little better. But yeah, I’m just taking it one moment at a time.”
Awaiting the defending women’s singles champion is another American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated yet another American, CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-2, 6-1 to proceed into the next round. Williams has beaten Mattek-Sands in both of their meetings.
Venus, who was pushed to an exasperating three-set in her opening match against Rising Star Monica Puig at this year’s championship, salvaged a tough 6-3 6-7(2) 6-2.
Agnieszka Radwanska cruised past her fellow Pole Magda Linette 6-3 6-2.
Singles – Second Round
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 64 61 62
 David Ferrer (ESP) d. Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 75 75 76(4)
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 76(5) 63 75
 Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 62 63 75
 Milos Raonic (CAN) d. Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 62 64 67(5) 76(1)
 David Goffin (BEL) d. Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 57 64 36 62 61
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d.  Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 63 76(5) 26 46 64
 Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Mardy Fish (USA) 26 63 16 75 63
 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Marcel Granollers (ESP) 63 64 63
 Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) d. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 46 64 60 26 64
 Andreas Seppi (ITA) d. Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 36 63 76(3) 61
 Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. Sam Groth (AUS) 64 76(3) 64
 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. Martin Klizan (SVK) 75 64 76(1)
 Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Pablo Cuevas (URU) 63 64 64
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d. Illya Marchenko (UKR) 64 76(2) 46 64
Benoit Paire (FRA) d. Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 63 36 64 63