Nadal takes off with the handbrake | Sports

Nadal takes off with the handbrake | Sports

Unhappy, Rafael Nadal examines the string of his racquet and urges his team to resume the series: “Come on, let’s start again.” The asphalt of Training Court 1, the traditional Spanish laboratory of the Flushing Meadows complex, ignites with the cocktail: it is 30 degrees and humidity close to 70%, so the tennis player’s body is constantly sweating and the Lycra which wraps the torso, completely soaked, perfectly defines the abdominal area. Right there, behind the fabric, is the main puzzle of this US Open of which he arrives as the undisputed favorite, even if the Russian Daniil Medvedev defends the title he won a year ago.

The preamble of New York is clear: it is Nadal, and then the others. The 36-year-old Balearic arrives in the great American North without having lost a single match in three majors previous (19-0 balance) and with a spectacular annual record, having won 35 of the 39 duels he has played so far. He sang at bingo in Melbourne, he rehearsed in Paris and then he was forced to leave Wimbledon, following the muscular misadventure which prevented him from getting on the court to face Nick Kyrgios in the semi-finals.

Since July 7, the day of San Fermín, he and his team have been monitoring the evolution of abdominal scars and there was only one way out: caution, caution and more caution.

As a result, Nadal had to rethink training sessions and carefully monitor every maneuver on serve. He reappeared in Cincinnati two weeks ago and gave in against Borna Coric, although he says the process is on track. “I lost against the champion, it was not a disaster. In general, I am working at a high level and the preparation is improving,” he said on Friday during his first speech to reporters in New York, from where he will leave in the same way as he is. arrived: with the handbrake Limited.

He perceived himself perfectly in training on Monday, before the first of the day (1.00, Eurosport) against Rinky Hijikata (21 years old and 198 in the world). After rallying at high intensity with Carlos Moyà and Marc López to grease the conduct and the reverse, for 50 minutes, the Mallorcan allowed only five to serve. He served at mid-range, without forcing the shortcut and at low speed. After each attempt, a brief dialogue with the trainer Francis Roig to evaluate.

Aspiring five-time champion

“It’s a hard injury because it’s dangerous, it’s risky. You have a scar where you put a lot of effort when you serve. You need to regain flexibility. There is a risk of tear when you make a relevant movement there, in a muscle less flexible than before. For the moment, I do not put the effort in the service”, he warned four days ago, implying that there are still risks and that a bad step or a rush could have a direct impact on his interests, which are none other than raising his level. fifth trophy on the asphalt of the biggest track in the world.

In the event of achieving this, Nadal – winner in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019 – would historically distance himself from John McEnroe and would equal the current five-time champions: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. This time, the Spaniard will dance without the company of the other two giants, the Swiss and Novak Djokovic. Between them, they have appropriated 59 of the last 69 major tournaments. “I’m delighted to play here, it’s one of the most important places in my career,” he said on his return, having not competed at Flushing Meadows since 2019; he resigned from the 2020 edition due to the pandemic and last year the chronic left foot injury deprived him of the second half of the season.

TSITSIPAS FALLS FROM THE FIGHT FOR 1

CA | Madrid

Nadal headlines Matchday 2, in which Carlos Alcaraz also makes his debut. The 19-year-old Murcian will face (6 p.m.) Argentinian Sebastian Báez, 37th in the world. Garbiñe Muguruza will also be there, summoned with Clara Tauson (57th, around 5:00 p.m.) and Paula Badosa, against Lesia Tsurenko (87th, around 1:00 a.m.).

Yesterday, day one, Pablo Carreño (7-5, 6-1, 5-7 and 6-3 for Dominic Thiem) and Alejandro Davidovich (6-3, 7-5 and 6-3 for Yoshihito Nishioka) progressed, but they ceded Roberto Bautista (6-4 hat-trick against JJ Wolf), Bernabé Zapata (4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 and 7-5 in favor of Tommy Paul) and Nuria Párrizas (6-4 and 6-3 with Dalma Galfi). From the start, Pablo Andújar announced his withdrawal due to a forearm injury.

On the other hand, Medvedev made her debut smoothly (6-2, 6-4 and 6-0 to Stefan Kozlov) and slipped one of the candidates, the Romanian Simona Halep (6-2, 0-6 and 6- 4 to Stefan Kozlov). Daria Snigur). Stefanos Tsitsipas did it too, beaten by Daniel Galán (6-0, 6-1, 3-6 and 7-5) and who was automatically dismissed in the fight to reach number one, to which they now aspire Nadal, Alcaraz, Medvedev. and Casper Ruud.

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