US Open: Nadal starts with victory, but leaves a set against the 198th in the world

US Open: Nadal starts with victory, but leaves a set against the 198th in the world


He beat Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. He will face Fognini for a place in the third round

Nadal hits a backhand against Hijikata.Sarah StierAFP

Since the beginning of the season, each of the appearances of Raphael NadaHe in a Grand Slam tournament requires a careful examination of his physique, to check if he is in perfect loader condition. It was like that at the Australian Open, where he showed up with victory in a small tournament in Melbourne after the long journey due to the chronic scaphoid injury in his left foot. It happened again at Roland Garros, due to a serious epidemic in Rome. And it happened again at Wimbledon, after an innovative treatment to prevent infiltrations that he had to undergo during the two weeks in Paris.

Nadal won his twenty-first Grand Slam title in Australia, added his twenty-second in the French capital and had a more than promising run in London before an abdominal rupture crossed him which prevented him from competing in the semi-finals. The turmoil reoccurs at the US Open, where he has arrived with just one match since the unfortunate mishap at Wimbledon: loss to Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Masters 1000, without having them all with him on the definitive solution to a problem that may condition his service performance. After a hesitant start, he beat Rinky Hijikata by 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and 6-3, in three hours and seven minutes.

Bad start

Upon his return to the US Open after three years, he encountered a virtually unknown opponent. Hijikata, a 21-year-old Australian who was making his Grand Slam debut on a wild card, started off fresh as someone with little to lose. In his fourth match as a professional, he took advantage of the Spaniard’s diesel start to win the opening set with the highlight of a direct serve. Loose, fast, courageous, taking advantage of the slightest opportunity to go to the net, the 198th in the world made a good break in the seventh game.

Nadal, less happy with the service, gained in scope in his strikes and varied the directions to better make the match logical, while the tennis player trained at the University of North Carolina lost in efficiency. It was a sustained and convincing reaction. Overcome the initial confusion, understandable because of its lack of mileage, the Spanish looked more like the one we all know. Already with the court covered in the third set due to rain, the four-time tournament champion presented typical arguments of those who aspire to win his twenty-third Grand Slam and return to world number 1 and dominated the match with authority.

Hijikata’s impression was pleasant, who resisted until the fifth match point, a dazzling and precise who passed from the right of the Spanish. Nadal’s good balance in service: 57% percentage, 77% points won with the first and 65% with the seconds.

waiting for you this Thursday Fabio Fogninian old acquaintance who he defeated in 13 of his 17 matches, but who lifted him by two sets in the third round of that same tournament in 2015. The Italian also came back from two opposing sets in this edition of the ‘US Open to defeat this Wednesday in Russian Aslan Karatsev.

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