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Nadal, Murray reach third round

NEW YORK -- Rafael Nadal beat Nicolas Kiefer at the U.S. Open, making it the first Grand Slam tournament in the Open era with all top 16 men in the third round.

The No. 3-seeded Nadal played cleanly, making only 22 unforced errors -- 38 fewer than the 129th-ranked Kiefer -- en route to a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory Friday night.

"Was a very good practice for me, no?" Nadal said, calling the match "a very good test."

Things did not come easily for Nadal, who is trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open for the first time.

"He was getting a little bit tired. I could see it, I could feel it. He didn't move so good," Kiefer said. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't count if you play good or bad. A win is a win, a loss is a loss."

Nadal was sidelined from his May 31 loss at the French Open -- ending his 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros -- until returning to the tour in August. He skipped Wimbledon, declining to defend his title there because of tendinitis in his knees.

While Nadal has proclaimed himself fit at Flushing Meadows, Kiefer did not feel as though he was facing the same Spaniard he had lost to four times previously. Not only has Kiefer never beaten Nadal, but the German entered Friday having lost all 10 sets they had played.

"Today was the first time where I was really thinking that I can beat him," Kiefer said.

Nadal did play cleanly, making only 22 unforced errors, 38 fewer than Kiefer. But after a strong first set, Nadal allowed his level of play to drop in the second.

A key game came with Nadal ahead 4-3 in the third set, and Kiefer serving.

"You never know what's going to happen if it's 4-all, 5-all," Kiefer said. "For sure, he was also showing some nerves."

But Nadal seized control by breaking Kiefer in a 12½-minute game. When Kiefer slapped a ball in the net to make it 5-3, Nadal punched the air three times and screamed, "Vamos!"

Nadal then held at love, making him 20-1 on his service points in that set.

Told of Kiefer's comments, Nadal smiled.

"Normal nerves," Nadal said. "But nothing really more than usual."

Earlier, second-seeded Andy Murray of Britain, the 2008 runner-up at Flushing Meadows, dropped a set before quickly righting himself for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over 87th-ranked Paul Capdeville of Chile.

"I played three very good sets and one poor one. But you're allowed to play a bad set sometimes," Murray said. "I came back well from it. I ... just felt a little bit lethargic, a little bit low on energy. I don't know why. But managed to pick it up at the end when I needed to."

Things did not come easily for Nadal, a six-time major champion trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open for the first time.

But he seized control by breaking Kiefer in a 12½-minute game at 4-3 in the third set. When Kiefer slapped a ball in the net to make it 5-3, Nadal punched the air three times and screamed, "Vamos!"

Nadal then held at love, making him 20-1 on his service points in that set.

The 22-year-old Murray had never been past the quarterfinals at a major tournament before his run at last year's U.S. Open. He upset Nadal in the semifinals before losing to Roger Federer.

Murray has an outside chance at moving up to No. 1 in the rankings: He would have to win the U.S. Open while Federer loses to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round.

"It's sort of a good three, four months before the next Grand Slam comes around," Murray said. "So make sure you give it your best."

Capdeville has never made it past the second round at a Grand Slam event.

Murray will next play American Taylor Dent, who beat Spain's Ivan Navarro 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (1), 7-5, 7-6 (9) to keep his inspiring comeback story on track.

The American won on his fourth match point, with a backhand return winner past Navarro that brought the fans at the Grandstand court to their feet. Really, they had been on their feet through most of this match, a tussle between a pair of serve-and-volleyers who played a lot of short points and high-risk, high-reward tennis.

Dent had a bigger game. He finished with 121 winners and 50 unforced errors, with his serve topping out at 147 mph. One of his serves, a 138-mph offering, broke the strapping on the net and caused a seven-minute delay.

None of this, of course, seemed possible two years ago when the 28-year-old, once ranked as high as No. 21, was bedridden with a back injury that some doctors said would never allow him to play tennis again.

He underwent delicate surgery and proved them wrong.

"When they told me I had the opportunity to play tennis again, how could I pass that up?" he said. "A select few get to play professional sports. It would have been naive and irresponsible of me to not try to capitalize and come out here and give it my best."

Ranked 195th and playing in his first U.S. Open since 2005, Dent's best has been good enough so far.

Next up, though, is a third-round match against Murray. He'll be a huge underdog. He has overcome these kind of odds before.

"It's going to be rough, there's no way around it," Dent said. "My execution is not where I want it to be, but that's not going to stop me from battling. That's how I won today. Even if it's 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, I'm going to go out and hustle and give everything I've got."

American Jesse Levine fell short in his upset bid, blowing a two-set lead in losing to Croatia's Marin Cilic in the second round.

Cilic rallied for a 4-6, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 victory.

"When it got to the third set, he really stepped up his game," Levine said.

An unseeded American has beaten a top-40 player eight times in the first four days of the tournament, but Levine couldn't add to the total. He was hurt by 46 unforced errors.

Levine was awarded a wild card for the third consecutive year and beat Teimuraz Gabashvili in the first round for his first victory at Flushing Meadows. Levine advanced to the third round at Wimbledon this year. He is from Boca Raton, Fla., and played at the University of Florida.

In other matches, No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga each won in straight sets. No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero advanced, and Julien Benneteau upset No. 30 Viktor Troicki.

"It was a quick match. I played great," Tsonga said after his 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.