Nadal survives early wobble to book last 16 spot in New York

Sept 3 (Reuters) - World number one Rafa Nadal ran into a spot of bother before crushing Argentine Leonardo Mayer and booked his place in the last 16 of the U.S. Open with a 6-7(3) 6-3 6-1 6-4 victory on Saturday.

The Spaniard, chasing his second grand slam title of the year, was on the back foot early on but once he found his rhythm, the contest was virtually over under a closed roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

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US Open 2017: Celebrity sightings
US golfer Tiger Woods, his daughter Sam and son Charlie watch Rafael Nadal of Spain against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina during their Men's semifinal singles match of the US Open 2017 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2017 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Emma Stone (2L) and Billie Jean King (L) attend the 2017 US Open Women's Final with Hilary Swank (R) and Philip Schneider (2R) at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
US actor Leonardo DiCaprio (in LA Dodgers cap) watches 2017 US Open Men's Singles Semifinals match between Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and Spain's Rafael Nadal from the Grey Goose suite at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Ben Affleck and Lindsay Shookus attend the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 02: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel flirt with each other while cheering on the players Federer vs. Lopez at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 02: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel flirt with each other while cheering on the players Federer vs. Lopez at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 02: Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel kiss while attending the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships Federer vs. Lopez at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
Retired Scottish actor Sean Connery (C) watches the 2017 US Open Men's Singles match between Frances Tiafoe of the US and Switzerland's Roger Federer, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Victoria Beckham and Romeo Beckham attend the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on August 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Pharrell Williams attends the first round Women's Singles match between Simona Halep of Romania and Maria Sharapova of Russia on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Actor Alec Baldwin (R) and his wife Hilaria Baldwin watch Maria Sharapova of Russia during her first round Women's Singles match against Simona Halep of Romania on Day One of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Jesse Eisenberg and his mom Amy Eisenberg attend the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on August 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Rosie Perez at Federer vs. Tiafoe match during the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on August 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
Editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour (C) watches the 2017 US Open Men's Singles Round 4 match between Switzerland's Roger Federer and Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Nina Agdal seen first time out in public with boyfriend Jack Brinkley-Cook at the 2017 US Open Men's Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Tommy Hilfiger and his wife Dee Ocleppo watch the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Katie Holmes watches Venus Williams v Sloane Stephens US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Hilary Swank watches the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Nina Agdal seen first time out in public with boyfriend Jack Brinkley-Cook and his mom Christy Brinkley at the 2017 US Open Men's Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 10, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen watch the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Chelsea Clinton at 2017 US Open Women's Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Actor Aziz Ansari looks on during the Men's Singles Semifinal match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina on Day Twelve of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Lin-Manuel Miranda watches the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Tiger Woods watches the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Candice Bergen, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, Jessica Seinfeld, and Tony Bennett watch the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Sloane Stephens and Matt Dillon watch the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Savannah Guthrie and Candice Bergen watch the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Bill Gates watches the Men's Singles finals match between Kevin Anderson of South Africa and Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Fourteen of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Alan Cumming at 2017 US Open Women's Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Hilary Swank and Philip Schneider attend the 2017 US Open Women's Finals at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/WireImage)
NEW YORK, USA - SEPTEMBER 9: US actor Robert Redford is seen during Men's Singles Semi-Final tennis match between Rafael Nadal (not seen) of Spain and Juan Martin del Potro (not seen) of Argentina within the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, United States on September 9, 2017. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Anna Wintour attends Day Twelve of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Actress Jane Krakowski attends Day Twelve of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Nadal will next face Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov.

"It was a tough situation for a set and I had some break points against me early in the second. I fought, I was there mentally and then I started to play much better," said Nadal.

"I must improve on the forehand. At the end of the match I was creating more space but at the beginning I failed to convert several chances with my forehand."

Mayer played some steely tennis in the first set, hitting neat and powerful shots to stave off six break points and force a tiebreak, in which the Argentine was always in control.

In the tiebreak, he took a mini-break for 3-2 when Nadal inexplicably netted a routine backhand and then sealed it with an unreturnable serve.

Nadal was hanging by his teeth, facing two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Two massive shots saved him and he got to level for 2-2 as he let out a huge 'Vamos', raising his clenched fist towards the crowd.

The match was dragging along and while the 23,000 day session spectators enjoyed the match, there were 23,000 waiting outside in the rain for the night session to start.

Nadal played tighter to finally take the first break of the match and move 3-2 up when his opponent sent a forehand wide.

The Spaniard went on to win seven successive points to set up three set points and on the third, he leveled the contest with a jaw-dropping dipping passing shot.

Normal service had resumed as Nadal won his seventh successive game to open up a 3-0 lead in the third set.

Mayer briefly threatened a comeback when he pulled a break back for 5-3 in the fourth set but Nadal served it out at 5-4 with Mayer sending a forehand long on match point. (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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