US Open 2022: Nadal suffers, but escapes | Sports

US Open 2022: Nadal suffers, but escapes | Sports

The night begins in a blur, but Rafael Nadal restores order. This is rarely the case. Rinky Hijikata grows, surprises and chases a prize, but ends up succumbing to the huge Balearic winning silhouette, which closes with a manual trainee and celebrates with enthusiasm: 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and 6-3, in 3h 08m. He had been parading in the New York HQ for three years – since that volcanic final he won against Daniil Medvedev – and, beyond the scoreboard and the set delivered, the x-ray is positive. Biorhythms are good. Serve, the main concern for abs protection, injured since Wimbledon, describes optimistic percentages and speeds. Despite the absence of competitive filming, the exhibition accompanies.

“It’s been a long wait, for a long time I thought I wasn’t going to be able to come back,” he says. “I haven’t played much in the last month, so it’s a matter of survival. I need to improve, and I think I will improve,” added Nadal in the middle of the field, a ticket for the next round in the pocket and relatively satisfied. will meet an old man diablo acquaintance, Fabio Fognini. The Italian’s heyday is long gone, but his name is a bitter memory for the Mallorcan from Flushing Meadows. He is, in fact, the man who came back two sets against him and knocked him down in the 2015 edition.

In his debut, Nadal encounters a dynamic and reactive rival who challenges him again and again, tackling all the time because, after all, Hijikata doesn’t have much to lose. Poles to fall, better with courage. In search of his hour of glory, the Australian, in his twenties (21 years old) who ranks 198th in the ranking and was invited by the organization, goes shirtless and lives up to the card description: follower of Spider Man, returns the Balearic balls drawing all kinds of postures and winks after another in the execution to Kei Nishikori, the stunning Japanese who is now pseudo-disappeared (370º) and who, there Not so long ago gave more of a dislike to giants. A real headache.

Nadal starts well, fine in his movements and plays the ball correctly, but he finds no hole and an unexpected shock: he had never lost the first set in the previous 15 draws at the great New Yorker, only four times (1 277 games he has already played) in the other three major scenarios; Daniel Brands (Roland Garros 2013), Steve Darcis (Wimbledon 2013), Martin Klizan (Wimbledon 2014) and Fernando Verdasco (Australia 2016) stole it. That is, the fear of entry. Hijikata, with a toothache, reaches everything and sends everything back, and ends up snatching the service in the seventh game. A fleeting detour, we think of the stands. But no. It wasn’t a bluff.

“Ready to Suffer”

The slide forces Nadal to row against the current, but he reacts seriously, without contorting his face, with force: with the first stroke, he hits the goal. He couldn’t afford a single option of Pause in the first set, but presses in the second and begins to smash the rival. Hijikata celebrated this feat so effusively that he lost a point of strength, cracked, and fell from the cloud. Opposite, an empire, and still continues to defy. He is encouraged by the rowdy stands of Arthur Ashe, and is seen from the VIP box by actor Ben Stiller, a regular at the center and a devoted follower of the Spaniard, with whom he shared a table and a tablecloth at an Italian restaurant in Soho a few days ago.

Everything is happening very quickly and a lot of things are happening. The judge must intervene up to ten times to ask the crowd to lower the tone during the point and reduce the decibels at the time of the service; he begins to flee into the city and the roof is closed; a group of friends drop off their pizza and melted cheese runs down the stairs; Beers, nachos, carbs and calories come and go everywhere; and as soon as the hegemonic Nadal has put himself on top, overwhelming logic, the duel is reduced to a productive rally session and good numbers in the service, a slice to take into account especially given the circumstances: 57% average , 77% points earned with first and 65% with seconds. also 9 ace.

“I changed it a little, I throw the ball a little lower”, specifies the champion 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019; “Today I am still on leaden feet. The scar I have must make it more flexible”.

And before, Hijikata gets tangled until the last breath. He doesn’t give up, he doesn’t surrender. Kudos to him, dignified and fearless from start to finish. But opposite there is an overdose of mystique. The first stone towards the altar of the 11th has already been laid. “The tournament was not going to be won today, but it could be lost today. You have to be smart and survive”, he values ​​when the clock has already almost reached midnight; “You have to be ready to suffer. Things aren’t that simple, whether you’re Rafa Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or whoever you are. It takes that extra bit of energy when you’re practically coming out of the second game of the last 50 days. Every day that I win here, it’s a day of tranquility”.

DOUBLE MISTAKE: OSAKA AND RADUCANU

BC | New York

The home stretch of the day saw the farewell of two references from the women’s circuit. Naomi Osaka, who lifted the title in 2018 and 2020, lost 7-6(5), 6-3 to American Danielle Collins, extending her slump into a bland run for her. He signed the third round in Australia, the first at Roland Garros and decided not to go to Wimbledon. Now, again, another exit for the first change.

The same path was followed by the young Emma Raducanu, one of the most media players. Dazzling champion of the tournament in 2021, as she became the first participant to win it from the previous phase and without giving up a single set in 10 matches, she remains in limbo. Since then, the 19-year-old Englishwoman has offered a very discreet performance both on the big stages and in smaller events.

This Tuesday, she was overtaken by the French Alize Cornet, in a victory (double 6-3) which was accompanied by a record. The 32-year-old Frenchwoman has 63 consecutive participations in the majorsfor which she dethroned the Japanese Ai Sugiyama (62).

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