One way to cut down on the number of Spaniards who have stormed into the late rounds of the U.S. Open is to pair them against other Spaniards - especially top-ranked Rafael Nadal.

The reigning French and Wimbledon champion, seeking to win a third consecutive Grand Slam event in 2010, eliminated countryman Feliciano Lopez early Wednesday morning and moved into the Open quarterfinals against another Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco.

Hours before the Nadal-Lopez match, Verdasco edged yet another Spanish native, David Ferrer, by producing the shot of the tournament on match point in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

Nadal won his late night/early morning match at Arthur Ashe Stadium over the 23rd-seeded Lopez, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. They didn't begin play until shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday because a long afternoon of drawn-out feature matches delayed the start of the night session by more than an hour and was further extended by Kim Clijsters' three-set victory over Samantha Stosur.

Nadal never lost his serve, saving all four break points he faced, and committed only 14 unforced errors (Lopez had 41).

Meanwhile, another endurance test unfolded next door at Louis Armstrong Stadium, where Verdasco needed 4 hours, 23 minutes to finally get a nose in front of Ferrer. On match point, Verdasco charged a perfectly angled Ferrer drop shot and somehow sent a backhand winner down the line to win, 5-7, 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Verdasco, the No. 8 seed, immediately grabbed his head with both hands and collapsed on his back in celebration. Not only had he climbed back from a two-sets-to-none deficit against Ferrer, the No. 10 seed, but Verdasco also had been down, 4-1, in the fifth-set tiebreak.

Verdasco committed a whopping 89 unforced errors in the match, compared with 49 by Ferrer, but also hit 73 winners to Ferrer's 38.

His reward is now to face Nadal - against whom he is 0-10 in his career - in Thursday's quarterfinals, after Nadal drew quickly away from Lopez early Wednesday.

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