NEW YORK — Even Rafael Nadal felt compelled to applaud when his second-round opponent at the U.S. Open hit a spectacular, full-sprint winner and was left doing splits at the net.
The shot put Denis Istomin within two points of tying the match at a set apiece. He couldn't manage to close the deal, though, a recurring theme for Nadal's game but outclassed foil in the top seed's 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory Friday night. Nadal saved 7 of 7 break points against Istomin, whose mother is his coach.
In the earlier night match, Venus Williams, her play sparkling as much as her sequined dress, easily eliminated 185th-ranked qualifier Mandy Minella 6-2, 6-1. She won the point on 18 of 21 trips to the net, helping her build a 29-5 edge in total winners.
"Really just concentrating on the footwork and moving forward," Williams said. "I think without the moving forward, I could have been involved in a lot of long points."
She wore her third outfit of the Open, all self-designed. "This outfit was really about New York. … It's like bursts of fireworks," she said. "It's about a celebration of me playing my best obviously at home and kind of doing what I love and being able to wear something fun while I do it."
Her sister Serena, who withdrew from the tournament because of a foot injury, watched in the stands.
There were no women's upsets on a day play was halted for less than a half-hour by rain when the outer edges of Hurricane Earl passed. Otherwise, play carried on under gray clouds and in temperatures in the 80s instead of the 90s that covered the first four days in stifling heat.
The highest-seeded American man left, No. 18 John Isner , beat 63rd-ranked Marco Chiudinelli 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Of 15 U.S. men in the draw, four are left: Isner, a Wesley Chapel resident; No. 20 Sam Querrey; No. 19 Mardy Fish, and James Blake, the latter two Tampa residents.
American Ryan Harrison, a Bradenton-based qualifier who was the lowest-ranked (220) and youngest (18) man left, wasted three match points in a fifth-set tiebreaker and lost 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Serena update: She told ESPN she's recovering from July 15 surgery on her right foot and hopes to be ready for the United States' Fed Cup final vs. Italy in November. Serena said she doesn't know exactly how her foot got cut as she walked out of a Munich restaurant less than a week after winning Wimbledon in July.
Fight night: A heated argument that turned into a brief melee Thursday night in the upper reaches of Arthur Ashe Stadium became the latest YouTube hit after being captured by fans with camera phones. One video posted on the website had been viewed more than 100,000 times by Friday afternoon.
What prompted the dispute during Novak Djokovic's win over Philipp Petzschner was not clear. In the videos, a man in his 20s jabbers with a woman in her 40s. She slaps him. He smirks. Eventually, the woman's septuagenarian father kicks and attacks the younger man. They jostle and fall over rows of seats.
All were taken into custody but not arrested. New York's Daily News identified them as Joey Pedevill, 27; Tracey Falco, 49, and her father, Lawrence Burnett, 75. None was seriously injured. U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said all are banned from attending the Open until 2013.