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Nadal nudges near a US title

TENNIS: For the third year in a row, Rafa Nadal is through to the semi-finals of the US Open. The one title he needs to complete his grand slam collection is now tantalisingly close.

Nadal booked his place in the last four by thrashing his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5 6-3 6-4.

The prospect of the ultimate grand slam final is looming larger than ever. Nadal and Roger Federer have already played each other in the finals at Wimbledon, Australia and Paris but never in New York.

"I think that he will play the final against Roger," Verdasco said. "It's gonna be a tough match, because I think Roger plays really good in these conditions.

"It's gonna be a very tough final for Rafa if he plays against Roger."

Nadal's next opponent is Mikhail Youzhny, the only player left in the men's draw not ranked in the top three.

Meehan wary of Irish

RUGBY: Steve Meehan is well aware of the dangers London Irish could pose to his Bath team in tomorrow's Aviva Premiership clash at the Recreation Ground.

Both clubs secured bonus point victories during the Premiership's opening weekend, Irish beating Saracens 33-16 and Bath winning 32-16 at Leeds Carnegie.

And Irish, beaten Premiership finalists in 2009, will arrive in the West Country with Bath head coach Meehan on full alert.

"London Irish pose threats all over the place," he said.

"They will be difficult to break down, but there will be opportunities for us -- we just have to be accurate and patient.

Cav clinches a treble

CYCLING: Mark Cavendish won the 12th stage of the Vuelta a Espana yesterday, a result which means the Manxman has now tasted victory at all three of cycling's grand tours -- the Vuelta, Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.