World No 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal steamed into the third round in sweltering conditions at the US Open on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Vasek Pospisil.
Nadal, spared the worst of the heat thanks to his late-night start on Arthur Ashe Stadium, sped past Pospisil 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
“The conditions are tough,” Nadal said. “It was important to start very well with that break. To win in straight sets is always very positive, especially in these conditions. It’s almost midnight, very happy about the victory.”
Former champions Stanislas Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, while 2012 winner Andy Murray, on his return to Flushing Meadows, was bounced by Fernando Verdasco.
Wawrinka survived searing mid-day heat and a spirited Ugo Humbert to win 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in three hours and 21 minutes.
“I think there is a good chance that I’m playing better in the next round,” said the Swiss, who will face Canadian Milos Raonic for a place in the last 16.
Meanwhile Murray, the 2012 US Open winner, who was playing his first Grand Slam in 14 months, is still fighting to find full fitness after hip surgery in January.
He went down 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, whose only win over him in 14 prior meetings was at the 2009 Australian Open.
Verdasco punched a ticket for a third-round meeting with 2009 champion del Potro, who defeated American Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4).
Fifth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, runner-up to Nadal last year and a runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, made quick work of France’s Jeremy Chardy, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Anderson next faces rising Canadian star Denis Shapovalov, who laboured to a 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.