Defending champion Rafael Nadal is on his way to the US Open quarterfinals.

Nadal overcame a blister on his right foot and two tight sets Sunday to beat 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 and reach the U.S. Open's fourth round.

The 76th-ranked Nalbandian went up a break in the fifth game and served for the first set at 5-4, but he double-faulted on break point. Then, at 3-all in the tiebreaker, Nalbandian double-faulted again, helping the second-seeded Nadal nose ahead.

Nalbandian broke to begin the third set, but Nadal broke right back to 1-1, then took an injury timeout after that game to have his right foot taped because of the blister.

"Every day is tougher and tougher," Nadal said in an on-court interview after the match.

He played far more cleanly and finished with only 18 unforced errors, 42 fewer than Nalbandian's total.

For a spot in the quarterfinals, Nadal will face 68th-ranked Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, who hit 23 aces in his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Igor Kunitsyn of Russia.

Muller is playing at Flushing Meadows for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals as a qualifier in 2008.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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