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Nadal serving up a storm as he puts down marker for US Open

IF you blinked, you might have missed it but Rafa Nadal gave the world another look at the weapon he hopes will help him win the US Open and complete his collection of grand slam titles.

The world number one has been working hard on his serve in the belief that it holds the key to his chances of finally conquering New York. If his performance last night was any guide, the wait may soon be over.

Playing his second round match against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan Nadal produced an extraordinary display of serving.

It was a high-quality match of power-hitting from both players but he never once lost his serve, which flew fastest across the net at 134mph (216kph).

"For the moment, it's working really well," Nadal said without any sense of understatement. "I going to try keep playing like this."

Nadal's victory kept him on course for a semi-final showdown with Britain's Andy Murray but the top professionals never like to talk about possible match-ups. One match at a time is their mantra.

Murray's second-round opponent was an unorthodox Jamaican called Dustin Brown. The Briton knew little about him but was warned to expect the unexpected. It was good advice but not a great contest, the Scotsman winning easily, 7-5 6-3 6-0.

"(There were) probably two rallies in the match that went past eight, nine shots," Murray said. "So I just went out and hit for 45 minutes just to get a bit of a rhythm."

Last night was not a day for the underdogs. They gave the seeds moments of trouble but the big names in action all prevailed.

Venus Williams trounced qualifier Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 6-2 6-1 before hamming it up with her sister Serena in a mock interview with the host television broadcaster.